This Week’s Ketchup includes biopics about two influential 20th century women (Nina Simone and Gertrude Bell), new entries in the Hangover and Expendables franchises, and new roles for Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg, Tom Hardy, Robert Pattinson, Michael Shannon, and Christoph Waltz.
This Week’s Top Story
THE EXPENDABLES 3 GETS NICOLAS CAGE, HOPES FOR BLADE, INDY, AND HARRY
The Expendables 2 is first opening in theaters this weekend, but producer Avi Lerner is already talking up the even bigger stars he hopes to entice into appearing in The Expendables 3. And according to Lerner, one of them, Nicolas Cage, already signed on. Here’s what Avi Lerner said to TotalFilm on the subject, exactly, “We’ve approached Clint Eastwood to be one of the guys, we’ve got a character in mind for him. We’re talking to Harrison Ford. [And we want] Wesley Snipes when he comes back from prison.” Of course, all of this presuming that Lionsgate will be greenlighting a third film, but #2 would have to be a pretty disastrous flop worldwide in order for them not to move ahead. Something else to consider, that might make for a fun guessing game, is to try to guess who Lerner’s second (or third or fourth) picks for each of these characters might be. If the “Clint Eastwood” or “Harrison Ford” roles don’t go to those specific gentlemen, who’s likely to be the more easily cast actor to stand in their stead (ie, cheaper and more likely to say yes)?
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 CHRISTOPH WALTZ KNOWS HOW TO SOLVE TERRY GILLIAM’S THE ZERO THEOREM
This month is the 10th anniversary of the release of the documentary Lost in La Mancha, and even now, Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote still eludes actually getting produced and finished. Although Terry Gilliam is sort of famous now for his difficulties in getting dream projects going, he has actually stayed more active than some of his contemporaries, with the release of three movies in the last 10 years (The Brothers Grimm, Tideland, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus). It’s true that his more recent films have started racking up some “Rotten” RT scores, but Terry Gilliam remains one of those rare directors who is easily forgiven latter transgressions in light of former successes. One of those success was Brazil, and Terry Gilliam’s next project (in lieu of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote ever getting made) seems to bear more than a few resemblances to that 1985 critical hit and “cult classic.” Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) will star in The Zero Theorem as “an eccentric computer genius bent on discovering the purpose of existence, or lack thereof, through a mysterious object,” all of which is set in an “Orwellian world” dominated by secret cameras and shadowy authority figures. Production is scheduled to start in Europe on October 22nd, and if it doesn’t, well, that’s probably just fate showing exactly what a massive grudge it holds against Terry Gilliam.
#2 CAN ANIMATED MOVIES HAVE MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF LENS FLARES TOO?
Following the critical and box office success of last year’s Rango, Paramount Pictures is preparing to re-establish the studio’s presence in the field of animated movies (which it used to have back around 10 years ago). The studio had already announced The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 2, but this week, we learned that of another project, and the possibility of many others. First up, one of Paramount’s favorite directors is J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek), but something that Abrams has never touched before is an animated movie, which will now change with his involvement in an untitled film for which there are no other details. Paramount is also developing an adaptation of the Penny Arcade online comic strip (called The New Kid), but the other big news here is that Paramount is looking to develop more movies based on their popular Nickelodeon shows. The list of shows that might get movie adaptations includes, but is not necessarily limited to, such shows as Dora the Explorer, The Legend of Korra, and Monkey Quest.
#3 DC VILLAINS TOM HARDY AND MICHAEL SHANNON UNITE FOR THE LONG RED ROAD
Directors and producers sometimes cast actors that represent a similar approach. So, it’s perhaps not surprising that the two actors who were cast as the villains in director/producer Christopher Nolan’s two most recent DC Comics movies have now been cast in the same movie together. Tom Hardy (Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) and Michael Shannon (General Zod in next year’s Man of Steel) have been cast the independent drama The Long Red Road, adapted from the play by Brett C. Leonard (writer/director of 2004’s Jailbait). Tom Hardy will play Sam (who he also played on stage), an alcoholic who lives on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, and Michael Shannon will play his brother. There’s been no announcement yet as to who will direct the movie version, but Philip Seymour Hoffman did direct the Chicago production in 2010 that Tom Hardy starred in.
#4 ROBERT PATTINSON TO PLAY LAWRENCE OF ARABIA IN QUEEN OF THE DESERT
Last year, it was announced that Angelina Jolie was attached to star in Gertrude Bell, a biopic produced by Ridley Scott about a British woman who was instrumental in early 20th Century Middle East politics and the formation of nations like Iraq and Jordan. Hollywood, however, often moves a lot slower than independent filmmakers. And so, this is where Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn) enters the story, as the director of a completely different Gertrude Bell biopic called Queen of the Desert. Instead of an American faking an accent, Herzog’s film will feature English (by way of Australia) actress Naomi Watts as Gertrude Bell. One of the figures that was central to Bell’s life and work was T.E. Lawrence (AKA Lawrence of Arabia), and that’s what this week’s news really focused on. The reason for that is that it is Robert Pattinson who will be costarring as T.E. Lawrence, and well, Robert Pattinson sells more papers and gets more clicks, presumably than Werner Herzog or Naomi Watts. As for the Angelina Jolie movie, there’s a very strong chance that if Queen of the Desert is successful, that other Gertrude Bell movie will probably be shelved now (and the opposite might happen if it isn’t).
#5 PLEASE DON’T LET ZOE SALDANA AS NINA BE MISUNDERSTOOD
Like many, many other musical biopics, the notion of a Nina Simone biopic (called Nina) has been struggling to be realized for several years now, with R&B singer Mary J. Blige the most publicized choice to play Simone. Now that the independent project has enough financing so that filming is now scheduled to actually start in October in Los Angeles, there’s a very different actress now attached to star. Instead of a singer-turned-actress, it will be dancer-turned-actress Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar) who will be portraying the jazz-singer-turned-civil-rights-activist. There are a lot of hyphenates in this story. David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) has also been cast as Nina Simone’s manager, Clifton Henderson. The script adapting Nina Simone’s life story was written by Cynthia Mort (cowriter of The Brave One), who will also direct, making her feature film debut as director. In the meantime, it’s also worth noting that Nina Simone’s daughter (named just) Simone has vocally come out as being against this film, stating that it is unauthorized (among other things).
#6 JESSE EISENBERG AND DAKOTA FANNING TO PLAY (ECO) TERRORISTS
Something that Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning have in common is that they’ve both been spoofed on Saturday Night Live (well, technically, it was Eisenberg’s portrayal of someone else), and now they’lll be in a movie together, too. Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning have been cast to join Peter Sarsgaard as a trio of eco-terrorists in the independent thriller Night Moves, about an attempt to blow up a river dam. Night Moves will be directed by Kelly Reichardt, who was also behind the camera for Wendy and Lucy and Meek’s Cutoff. In other Fanning news, Dakota’s little sister Elle Fanning has been cast in the movie adaptation of the Young Adult novel Olive’s Ocean, which is also an independent production. Elle Fanning’s character is described as “a teen who goes on a summer of soul searching after discovering that a classmate who recently died in a tragic accident had secretly hoped to become her friend.”
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 JOHN GOODMAN CAST AS THE BAD GUY IN THE HANGOVER PART III
Thus far, most of the cast “news” for The Hangover Part III has been that various people from the first film were returning for the trilogy closer, which will reportedly be set in Las Vegas (again), Los Angeles and Tijuana, Mexico. This week, we got our first news about a new cast member in the form of John Goodman, who is described as playing an antagonist “in the vein of Paul Giamatti” (in The Hangover Part II). There’s also talk about Sean Penn or Robert Downey, Jr. being talked to, but it’s unclear if they would be playing other characters, or if they were in discussions to play the role that eventually went to John Goodman (probably not, but maybe?). Meanwhile, in other The Hangover-related news, Bradley Cooper is currently in talks to star in an independent crime thriller called Bad Blood and Trouble, in which Cooper would play a 1950s detective in Miami, for director J. Blakeson (The Disappearance of Alice Creed). Bradley Cooper also remains in contention for the male role in Clint Eastwood’s new version of A Star is Born, which Beyonce has long been attached to star in. The Hangover Part III is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas because of the low 35% “Rotten” score for The Hangover Part II.
#2 THE ROBOCOP REMAKE IS ROCKED BY A RAUCOUS REVIEW
Generally, the Weekly Ketchup doesn’t address script reviews, mostly because a lot can happen between one draft (or another) and the finished product. This story, however, is about a script review that received much more online attention than most do, mostly because it involves a previously controversial remake that started to be more warmly receptive once the director was hired, and an intriguing casting process started. That remake is of course RoboCop, the director is Jose Padilha (Elite Squad), and the impressive cast includes Joel Kinnaman (as Murphy), Jackie Earle Haley, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, and Michael K. Williams. The script review in question was written by Drew McWeeney (formerly Moriarty at AICN, now of HitFix.com), in a series of posts on the Twitter.com service, as collected for your convenience at Collider.com. The script review was more than just negative, it was brutal, and if it represents the movie that is actually produced, could represent the point at which the fan collective, such as it is, turns against this remake. Reasons for McWeeney’s derision towards the script include dialogue that seems to mock the original RoboCop, other dialogue that paraphrases dialog from the original, a series of armors that recalls both Iron Man and Transformers, and a subplot in which RoboCop fights Al Qaeda terrorists. Really. Meanwhile, casting on the remake continues, with Marianne Jean-Baptiste (from TV’s Without a Trace) now on board to play the chief of police.
#1 THIS WEEK IN EXPLODING MOVIES: DAREDEVIL (AT FOX), EASTERN PROMISES 2, AND HENRY SELICK’S LATEST
This was a big week for movie projects getting the old heave ho. It was just last week that the world found out that director Joe Carnahan (The A-Team, The Grey) was talking to Fox about taking over their Daredevil reboot, and already this week, we found out that the deal was pretty much over and kaput. It now appears highly unlikely that Fox will get the film produced by the October 10th deadline, and so Marvel Studios will likely soon get the rights back for Daredevil and all of his ancilliary characters (which is probably not Rotten news at all, admittedly). Something else that is pretty awesome news is that Joe Carnahan gave the Internet the PG-13 and NC-17 “sizzle reels” that he put together to express to 20th Century Fox what he had in mind for his reboot of Daredevil, which apparently would have been set in the 1973 of movies like Serpico and The French Connection. Joe Carnahan wasn’t the only director who recently discovered a crime/mafia-related project to be shuttled by a studio, as that is also the fate of David Cronenberg’s long planned Eastern Promises 2. A movie that probably was distinctly not like Daredevil or Eastern Promises 2 was whatever stop-motion animation director Henry Selick (Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas) was working on Disney… because now he’s not. If there is good news in all of this, it’s that Disney still wants to work with Henry Selick on another movie, which is an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman children’s book The Graveyard Book.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.