This week’s Ketchup includes movie development news stories about the Marvel movies Doctor Strange and The Fantastic Four, sequels for Mean Girls (sort of) and Ride Along, and new movies starring Jennifer Aniston, Tina Fey, Will Smith, and Meryl Streep.
This Week’s Top Story
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT WHEN YOUR STARS JOIN THE FANTASTIC FOUR REBOOT
With filming scheduled to start in just a few weeks in Baton Rouge, it was fairly obvious that we were going to be getting a big announcement from 20th Century Fox about the casting of the Marvel reboot The Fantastic Four. What that announcement ended up including was two of the actors that have been mentioned for months now, another previously announced candidate, and only one new name. Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan from the recent comedy That Awkward Moment will play Mister Fantastic and The Human Torch, respectively. That pair of recent costars will be joined by Kate Mara (Rooney Mara’s older sister) and Jamie Bell, who costarred together in the upcoming indie boxing drama Fighting Jacob, as Invisible Woman and Ben Grimm (AKA The Thing), respectively (obviously). This announcement also brought with it confirmation that the reboot will be joining The Amazing Spider-Man and Marvel’s cinematic version of Nick Fury in being inspired more by Marvel’s “Ultimate” comics than the mainstream Marvel stories. In Ultimate Fantastic Four, instead of gaining their abilities from cosmic rays during a space mission, the “Fantastic Four” have their origin instead in a sort of think tank for young scientific geniuses. Probably not coincidentally, Ultimate Fantastic Four was cowritten by Mark Millar, who is now acting at 20th Century Fox as a creative consultant on all of their Marvel Comics adaptations. The Fantastic Four will be released on June 19, 2015, and will be directed by Josh Trank, who also previously worked with Michael B. Jordan on the superpowers movie Chronicle.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 WILL SMITH TO INVESTIGATE SUPER POWERS IN BRILLIANCE
It was just two weeks ago that we learned that Will Smith had finally and officially dropped out of starring in the Independence Day sequel, and this week, we learned what he might be doing at around the same time instead. Smith is now in early talks with Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures to star in their “potential tentpole” called Brilliance. Based upon a recent science fiction novel by Marcus Sakey, Brilliance is “set in a world where some people called ‘brilliants’ are born with heightened cognitive abilities, the story follows a federal agent whose extraordinary gift makes him exceptional at hunting terrorists.” Will Smith would be playing that federal agent who investigates “brilliants” such as a woman who is able to be “invisible” by having an innate knowledge of where people aren’t looking. Brilliance will be directed by indie filmmaker Julius Onah in his studio feature debut, from a script by David Koepp (Panic Room, Spider-Man). Will Smith’s next released movie will be the romantic comedy Focus, which was recently scheduled for February 27, 2015.
#2 MARVEL’S SHORT LIST OF POTENTIAL DOCTOR STRANGE DIRECTORS CONJURED FORTH
Marvel Studios is very good at measuring out their news stories so that every week gets at least one or two mentions in stories like The Weekly Ketchup. The biggest one this week was actually the first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, but that’s less “film development” than “film publicity.” This week’s big story in that department involves a short list of four directors that Marvel Studios is reportedly considering for the job of directing Doctor Strange. Marvel has taken some interesting chances in the past (like say, Kenneth Branagh on Thor), and most of these are less obvious possibilities like that. The four names are: Mark Andrews (codirector of Pixar’s Brave), Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair), Dean Israelite (the upcoming found footage movie Welcome to Yesterday), and Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies). All four resist stereotyping, and aren’t “action” directors (Brave comes closest). Doctor Strange is, of course, Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, and so the movie promises to really open up the “mystical” side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which we may get our first glimpse of with Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron). Doctor Strange will probably come out in either 2016 or 2017.
#3 JENNIFER ANISTON TO BE ONE OF THE MEAN MOMS
As sort of a quasi-sequel to their hit comedy Mean Girls, New Line Cinema is preparing to start filming on a comedy called Mean Moms. Mean Moms will be adapted from the Rosalind Wiseman nonfiction book Queen Bee Moms and King Pin Dads, which was a sequel to her book Queen Bees and Wannabees, which was the inspiration for the movie Mean Girls. Since the title is plural, we can presume there will be more than one Mean Mom, but we now know that one of the leading ladies might be Jennifer Aniston. Mean Moms will mark the feature film debut of Beth McCarthy-Miller, who has directed episodes for dozens of TV shows, including 11 seasons of Saturday Night Live (1995-2006).
#4 TINA FEY TO STAR IN (NOT REALLY) WACKY MIDDLE EAST COMEDY THE TALIBAN SHUFFLE
Speaking of SNL, Tina Fey also landed a new job this week. The former 30 Rock star will star in The Taliban Shuffle, which was adapted by 30 Rock writer Robert Carlock from the Kim Barker memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tina Fey will also produce the dramedy about an American female journalist working in the two Muslim nations in 2002. Paramount Pictures is still looking for a director.
#5 WAHH, WHAM BAM, THANK YOU, MA’AM! MERYL STREEP TO STAR IN SUFFRAGETTE
Meryl Streep is continuing her career of portraying real life figures in “Oscar bait” type prestige films this week by signing on to play iconic political activist Emmeline Parkhurst in the British drama Suffragette. Streep joins the already cast Carey Mulligan, who will star as Maude, “a foot soldier of the early feminist movement.” The next day, Ben Whishaw and Brendan Gleeson were also announced as having roles in Suffragette, which will be directed by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane).
#6 JAI COURTNEY TO TRAVEL BACK IN TIME IN THE TERMINATOR REBOOT
We’ve known for a while about the casting of two of the characters in the Terminator reboot that might be called Terminator: Genesis. Jason Clarke will play John Connor, and Emilia Clarke will play his eventual mother Sarah Connor. This week, we finally learned who will be travelling back in time and fathering his former (and future) boss. If that reads as convoluted and difficult to follow… hey, time travel! Anyway, the honor of playing Kyle Reese will go to Jai Courtney, who is probably best known for playing John McClane Jr. in last year’s A Good Day to Die Hard. Whatever it’s called, the Terminator reboot will be directed by Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones, Thor: The Dark World), and is scheduled by Paramount Pictures for release on July 1, 2015.
#7 THE WALKING DEAD STAR NORMAN REEDUS BREATHES AIR FOR THAT SHOW’S CREATOR
This story is pretty much all about the hit AMC series The Walking Dead. Norman Reedus is one of the most popular actors to emerge from that show, and this week, he signed on for a movie which is being produced by comic book writer Robert Kirkman, whose credits include creating The Walking Dead (the original comic book). Reedus and Djimon Hounsou will star together in Air, a science fiction thriller about the caretakers of an underground bunker in a future where most of Earth’s atmosphere has been destroyed. Air will be directed by first time director Christian Cantamessa.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 FORMER MARVEL STARS JESSICA ALBA AND THOMAS JANE LIFT BACK THE VEIL
Jessica Alba (Fantastic Four) and Thomas Jane (The Punisher) are in talks with Blumhouse to costar together in the supernatural thriller The Veil. The story revolves around a mass suicide by members of a cult called Heaven’s Veil, and the woman (Alba) who returns to the scene after being the only survivor as a little girl. The Veil will be directed by Phil Jounou (Gridiron Gang) from a script by Night at the Museum cowriter Robert Ben Garant.
#1 RIDE ALONG HAS EARNED $122 MILLION AND COUNTING SO… RIDE ALONG 2, HERE WE GO
Ride Along has only been out for a little over a month, and has already earned over $122 million on a production budget of $25 million (with more box office surely yet to come in). And so, it should surprise pretty much no one that all of the principal players (including director Tim Story and stars Ice Cube and Kevin Hart) are coming together to start work on Ride Along 2. One audience for whom the first Ride Along was not a resounding success was film critics, who have given the movie a “Rotten” score of just 17%. Filming is expected to start in June or July of this year, in the hopes of getting Ride Along 2 in theaters possibly as early as sometime in 2015. The premise hasn’t been revealed yet, but maybe this time, Ice Cube rides along with Kevin Hart? Hey, it’s what they did with Rush Hour 2.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.