This week, Hollywood finally started to recover from their long two-week lapse in movie development news due to the end of summer, including Labor Day weekend. Bouncing back from this near hiatus, Hollywood has given us new movies featuring Brad Pitt, three different stories involving CGI animation, a few unnecessary remakes, and biopics about the lives of Emily Dickinson and Coach Joe Paterno.
This Week’s Top Story
DREAMWORKS ANIMATION ANNOUNCES AN AMBITIOUS TWELVE FILM SCHEDULE FOR 2013-2016
Normally, animated films are announced one at a time (like most movies), but this week DreamWorks Animation revealed their release schedule for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, and in doing so, provided a more concrete idea of what they’re planning. In the year 2013, DreamWorks will give us the caveman comedy The Croods, the snail racing adventure Turbo, and the 1960s TV cartoon adaptation Mr. Peabody & Sherman, all of which were previously announced, including production images you can Google. In 2014, DreamWorks’ plans include Me and My Shadow (which blends traditional animation with CGI), the sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Happy Smekday!, which is an adaptation of a 2011 children’s book (The True Meaning of Smekday) about a future in which the human race has been enslaved by an alien race. For 2015, there’s the spinoff The Penguins of Madagascar, the toy adaptation Trolls about those creepy little bug eyed dolls that were popular back in the 1960s-1970s, and B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, which is speculated to be sort of like Men in Black but for ghosts, spirits and wraiths. Finally, there are just two movies slated for 2016 (with a third probably not yet announced), which are Kung Fu Panda 3 and How to Train Your Dragon 3.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 BRAD PITT WANTS TO TELL YOU ABOUT IBM AND THE HOLOCAUST
Brad Pitt is producing a feature film adaptation of the NYT bestselling non-fiction book IBM and the Holocaust, which as the title suggests, is about how IBM assisted the Nazis in the 1930s in identifying the Jews to help facilitate their extermination. The feelgood movie of the year, this probably will not be. An adaptation of the book had formerly been silently in development at HBO, but now Brad Pitt is shopping it around to studios and production companies as a theatrical feature film that he may star in, to help sell what is obviously a very heavy and more-than-potentially controversial subject. While it was at HBO, the script was adapted by Marcus Hinchey, cowriter of the 2010 Ryan Gosling film All Good Things, and it appears that it is still Hinchey’s script that Brad Pitt is shopping around town. IBM and the Holocaust isn’t, however, the only story set in 1930s Germany that made the news this week. Although he was just mentioned two weeks ago in this column as the director of a comedy called Will, Michel Hazanavicius made the news again this week for being in talks to direct another film. Tom Hanks is producing and will star in In the Garden of Beasts, which is an adaptation of a non-fiction book about the U.S. ambassador to Germany during the late 1930s. Natalie Portman is also in consideration to play the daughter of the ambassador, who will be played by Hanks himself.
#2 THAT SEQUEL TO HOPE AND GLORY THE WORLD’S BEEN CLAMORING FOR FINALLY ARRIVES AS QUEEN AND COUNTRY
There are certain genres of movies that are particularly conducive to sequels, like horror flicks, comedies, superhero movies, etc. Decidedly unlike any of those is the 1987 family dramedy Hope and Glory, which was written and directed by John Boorman (Deliverance, Excalibur) about his own childhood experience during the Blitz in London during WWII. That film will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this November, and at the same time, Boorman will be continuing to work on a sequel to be called Queen and Country. Caleb Landry Jones (Banshee from X-Men: First Class) has been cast as the older Bill Rowan in a story set during the Korean War that will also reference Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1952. Filming of Queen and Country is expected to start soon, and then Caleb Landry Jones will reunite again with director John Boorman on a science fiction project called Broken Dream.
#3 UNIVERSAL PICTURES IS LITERALLY DOUBLING DOWN ON SEQUELS
This story is more about the big picture, but it does include a couple of details about specific movies. The headline here is that the CEO of NBC/Universal (Steve Burke) said this week that Universal Pictures is going to focus in the near future more on “franchises and animation.” Two sequels that were mentioned as examples were the fifth film in the Bourne franchise (which is rumored to possibly feature both Jeremy Renner and Matt Damon), and Ted 2, the sequel to this summer’s hit from Seth McFarlane and Mark Wahlberg. This emphasis on sequels at Universal may have been predictable when one considers how quickly Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall went from being possibly forever shelved to being cast and in production within just a few months. As for the animation half of this story, Universal Pictures is expected to ramp up their animated slate from two movies every three years to two movies every year. The bulk (indeed, probably the entirety) of those animated movies are expected to come from Illumination Entertainment. Illumination certainly has enough projects in development to meet this new demand, including The Addams Family, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George, Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, Emily the Strange, and Woody Woodpecker.
#4 CYNTHIA NIXON: FROM SEX AND THE CITY TO PLAYING EMILY DICKINSON IN A QUIET PASSION
Director/screenwriter Terence Davies (The House of Mirth, The Deep Blue Sea) recently wrote a screenplay about the life of 19th century poet Emily Dickinson called A Quiet Passion, with a very specific actress in mind. This week in Toronto, it was announced that the actress was Cynthia Nixon (Miranda from Sex and the City), and that she has signed on to star in the independent biopic drama. The film will cover Dickinson’s entire life “from precocious schoolgirl to the tortured recluse who saw only seven of her more than 1,000 poems pubished in her lifetime.” And now, let’s finish this story with a quote from the 2009 Robin Williams movie, World’s Greatest Dad, responding to a question from a student about whether Emily Dickinson was “hot:” “She was a Victorian. If you like your buttoned-down girls, she was one of them.” Quoting Bobcat Goldthwait about whether Emily Dickinson was hot was why the Internet was given to us.
#5 TOBEY MAGUIRE AND FOX ANIMATION TEAM UP FOR CARDBOARD
Once upon a time, there was no fancy CGI animation, and children usually had to imagine their own wonders. Now, Tobey Maguire is teaming up with Fox Animation to produce a CGI animated movie about that exact topic, which of course, has the potential to be ironic, but only if the finished film isn’t aware of that very contradiction. Cardboard will be an adaptation of a graphic novel by Doug TenNapel about a little boy whose broke father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday, which the boy then imagines comes to life, leading to an adventure of the imagination. Tobey Maguire might also provide his voice (probably as the father?). Cardboard, if it moves forward, is being eyed as a possible directing job for Chris Wedge (Ice Age, Robots). Cardboard is the third project that Doug TenNapel has sold to Hollywood, after two adaptations in development at Disney called Ghostopolis and Monster Zoo.
#6 AL PACINO GOES FROM JACK KEVORKIAN TO JOE PATERNO
Al Pacino may have thought he played a divisive real life character when he starred in HBO’s You Don’t Know Jack as Dr. Jack Kevorkian, but the movie that was announced this week might make that look like… a movie that isn’t controversial. Al Pacino’s name is attached to a film project that is being shopped around Hollywood that is based on the currently bestselling book Paterno by Joe Posanski, about the life of longtime Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Ever since his death, there have been expectations that Paterno’s story would be adapted as a feature film eventually, basically because his story so closely matches a traditional three-act character arc. Paterno became “the winningest coach in college football history,” and then just as his legacy seemed entirely ensured, a horrible scandal brought it all down, to the point that Penn State actually removed his statue recently. This writer could get into more detail as to what the film’s third act will probably entail, but he just ate, thanks. There’s no writer or director attached yet, and as of this writing, it’s still only being shopped around. As for the idea itself of Pacino playing Paterno… well, they do sort of resemble each other, and their names are similar.
#7 ELIZABETH BANKS AND DIANE LANE KNOW EVERY SECRET THING
Independent documentary filmmaker Amy Berg (Deliver Us from Evil, West of Memphis) is making the transition to independent drama with a crime story called Every Secret Thing, to be produced by actress Frances McDormand. Elizabeth Banks and Diane Lane are attached to star, but it’s unclear what their roles will be, as the premise seems to describe lead characters who are much younger than they are: “At 11-years-old, Ronnie and Alice were convicted for the murder of a baby and were incarcerated until they turned 18. Now newly released and replete with psychological problems, each attempts to adjust to life outside juvenile detention… when children start to go missing. As the police turn their attention to Ronnie and Alice, the mystery surrounding the original murder and their roles in it takes the fore.” Filming of Every Secret Thing is scheduled to start in February, 2013.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 BORN FREE AND BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER BOTH TO GET UNNECESSARY REMAKES
This story concerns two family friendly movies that were released in 1966 and 1987. Let me inject a little autobiographical information here: as someone born in 1970, this writer was born too late to experience the pop culture sensation that was Born Free directly, and by the time Brave Little Toaster came out, I was too old to claim that it was an important part of my childhood (I was 17). The reason this gets mentioned is that most of the online writers who covered this news the week that both properties are being targeted for remakes by the same company seem to really treasure Brave Little Toaster as part of their youth. Whereas, this specific writer (me), is stuck in the middle, and quite frankly, I’m actually more familiar with Born Free because it was rerun on TV quite a bit during the 1970s. Anyway, here’s the very brief facts: Born Free was released in 1966, and told the true story of a couple in Africa who raised an orphaned lion cub to eventually become Elsa the Lioness, who is released happily back into the wild (presumably). This week brought the news that producer Steve Waterman, one of the people behind both the Stuart Little and Alvin and the Chipmunks film franchises, wants to remake Born Free as a movie told from the perspective of Elsa the Lioness herself. As for Brave Little Toaster (the original of which was one of the first films that Pixar’s John Lasseter was involved with), the plan appears to be to update the animation as a combination of CGI and live action. The story appears to be about five household appliances going off on an adventure; at least, that’s what I read on Wikipedia, to be completely honest. Regardless, the idea of Born Free and/or Brave Little Toaster being updated all Alvin and the Chipmunks style doesn’t seem like it could possibly be considered a “fresh development,” and so here we are.
#1 ALL OF ME, WHY MUST THEY REMAKE ALL OF ME? CAN’T THEY SEE, IT’S A ROTTEN I-DE-A?
DreamWorks is “quietly” developing a remake of the 1984 comedy hit All of Me, about Lily Tomlin’s ghost possessing the body of Steve Martin. All of Me was also directed by Carl Reiner, and currently has a RT Tomatometer score of 90%. This isn’t the first time a studio considered remaking the film; at one time, New Line Cinema almost made one that would have starred Queen Latifah, back in the era when Queen Latifah regularly headlined major studio comedies. Whatever one thinks of that, the DreamWorks remake has an even lamer twist. In this remake, instead of it being the ghost of a woman inside a man, it would be a ghost of a man inside of a man. In other words, the premise is being fundamentally changed to the point where it no longer even resembles All of Me at all. However, the title would remain the same, and the legacy of the original film would still be tainted. The screenwriters of this All of Me remake are Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, whose recent film was The Vow, which is “Rotten” on the RT Tomatometer with a score of 30%.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.