This week’s Ketchup includes big news for the two movies based upon J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, casting news for Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers, biopics about the lives of Tupac Shakur and Rush Limbaugh, and news about potential third movies in the Sex and the City and Three Men and a Baby franchises.
The big news this past weekend, which continued to reverberate through the week, was the announcement by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) that he is stepping down as the director of the upcoming two movies adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Del Toro has spent two years getting the movies ready, but ongoing delays mostly due to MGM’s financial woes appear likely to push the start of filming back even further. Del Toro will, however, continue working on the scripts with Lord of the Rings cowriting partners Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. The next step is for Jackson and Del Toro to meet with studio executives as the search begins for a replacement director. Although we will never see what The Hobbit as directed by Guillermo del Toro himself would have looked like, his stamp will undoubtedly remain on the projects, as a great deal of preproduction has been completed under his supervision in New Zealand. The resulting news for movie fans, however, is not all necessarily negative. Over the last few years, Guillermo del Toro has also accumulated a massive movie development slate, and leaving The Hobbit means that some of those movies are now more likely to be made soon, rather than in something like 2013 as would have previously been the case. In addition to potential “personal projects” (like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone), Guillermo del Toro’s slate includes adaptations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and the Dan Simmons novel Drood, which is about Charles Dickens’ secret life as a Victorian Era detective.
After months of rumor and speculation, Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) is now in final negotations with Marvel Studios to costar in The Avengers as the archer superhero Hawkeye. Renner’s casting as Hawkeye is significant because it is the first casting for the movie for a character who won’t be seen in another Marvel movie beforehand. Other Avengers members that will have appeared in other movies by the time that The Avengers is released on May 4, 2012 include Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and War Machine (Don Cheadle). Samuel L. Jackson will also have an important role in The Avengers as S.H.I.E.L.D. head Nick Fury, who brings the group together. Neal McDonough (HBO’s Band of Brothers) is also in talks to join the cast of Captain America: The First Avenger this week as Dum-Dum Dugan, who fans may remember as both a cigar-chewing, bowler-wearing member of Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos and after World War II, S.H.I.E.L.D. That, however, was in the original comics, where there wasn’t such a big gap between World War II and the 1960s. It’s not yet known whether Dum-Dum Dugan will just be seen in the World War II story, or if he will somehow appear in modern times as well. Finally, the Internet nerd community greeted this week the arrival of our first full glimpses of the costumes of both Captain America and Thor. It should be noted that these images are technically costume concept art, and the finished product may look different. This is especially true of Captain America, who is known from earlier script reviews to undergo at least one major costume change in Captain America: The First Avenger, and there may be a third costume later in the script as well. Having said that, the Thor image at least seems to match the previously released first official image.
Although we don’t yet know which villain(s) will be in Christopher Nolan’s next Batman movie, Nolan let the world know which one won’t be: The Joker. The obvious reason, of course, is that Heath Ledger sort of defined the role for this generation. Warner Bros has also picked up the rights from Dark Horse Comics to the independent graphic novel called 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man by Matt Kindt. 3 Story is a “modern fable, exploring the life of a giant man, Craig Pressgang, whose strange medical condition causes continuous growth… from birth to his eventual three-story height.” The screenwriter tasked with adapting the “arty” and “downbeat” story is Dustin Lance Black, who won the Oscar for original screenwriting for Milk, and whose Hoover biopic will be directed by Clint Eastwood. Black made his directorial debut with the independent drama What’s Wrong With Virginia (starring Emma Roberts and Jennifer Connelly), and he is also signed to direct 3 Story.
With his Facebook drama The Social Network not yet released, director David Fincher (Zodiac, Fight Club) is already preparing his next movie. Daniel Craig is reportedly in talks with Fincher to star in his English-language adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first in a trilogy of Swedish detective novels. The Millennium Trilogy, written by Stieg Larsson (and published posthumously after his 2004 death), details the cases of an unlikely investigative team of a middle-aged journalist and an eccentric female computer hacker with a photographic memory. In addition to Daniel Craig, Brad Pitt has also reportedly expressed interest in the reporter role. The casting of the young computer hacker is still underway, but the actresses who are interested reportedly include Carey Mulligan (An Education), Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman. David Fincher plans on starting filming in October, 2010, and Columbia Pictures is already planning on a December, 2011 release.
Plans for a biopic about slain rapper Tupac Shakur have been in the works for several years now, but it appears the movie will finally start filming this September. That’s the word, at least, from director Antoine Fuqua (King Arthur, Training Day). Just last week, Fuqua had been revealed as the director of an upcoming Bruce Willis prison escape movie called The Tomb, but that movie will apparently have to wait. Tupac Shakur was, of course, a rapper who got his career started as a member of Digital Underground before going solo as 2Pac and then Tupac. Shakur was also shot five times in 1994, then served 11 months in prison for sexual assault, and was finally shot again in Las Vegas, this time fatally. Tupac Shakur has also already been the focus of over a dozen (!) documentary films, including the Academy Award nominated 2003 film Tupac: Resurrection.
Once upon a time, when you said “Rush,” people thought you were talking about an awesome Canadian rock group who did that song about Tom Sawyer. Today, people are more likely to follow a word association game of Rush with… Limbaugh. Love him or hate him, Rush Limbaugh’s impact on political talk radio over the last 20 years is indisputable. And now, a producer/screenwriter named James Sclafani has optioned the rights to the unauthorized biography The Rush Limbaugh Story: Talent on Loan from God from author Paul Colford. Sclafani has no produced credits, but he did sell his script Counter Kid to Bill Murray’s production company. Sclafani is now shopping his Rush Limbaugh script around for financing. Sclafani says that his script is a “close cousin” to Oliver Stone’s W. about George W. Bush, and include the contradictions between Rush’s stances on the military and drugs and Rush’s own personal experiences. Sclafani put it this way, “This is Citizen Kane meets Private Parts, where you have a man who always had trouble relating to people in the outside world, but does it effortlessly in the booth.” This project is only marginally in the Rotten Idea category, mostly because what someone thinks about an unauthorized biography of Rush Limbaugh probably depends upon well, lots of things. If you’re one of Rush’s Dittoheads, then you probably see this as yet another liberal attack on the right. If you don’t care for Rush, then perhaps this is a movie that you would like to see. Regardless of all that, Sclafani is also an unproven talent at this point, and so that’s just enough to push this story into the Rotten Idea category.
In three years since Veronica Mars went off the air after three years on UPN and The CW, there has been regular talk about a possible movie spinoff. Kristen Bell starred in the TV series as the titular Veronica Mars, a high school/college student who was also a private investigator. And now, producer Joel Silver has come forward to explain why the Veronica Mars movie most likely will never happen. Silver says that he and series creator Rob Thomas talked to the Warner Bros home video people, and that the Veronica Mars DVDs did not sell particularly well. And it’s also worth noting that when it was on the air, Veronica Mars only averaged 2-3 million viewers per episode. Silver says that the video market would have been the reason to make a Veronica Mars movie, and so the audience is perceived as not being there for a theatrical movie either. This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas on behalf of the show’s fans, who were capable of creating the impression of a larger fanbase through their avid support of the show. This writer didn’t watch Veronica Mars, but I know some people really enjoyed it, so I’m guessing that some fans will be disappointed to learn that Veronica Mars won’t continue sleuthing on the big screen.
Tom Selleck confirmed this week that Disney has plans to revive the comedy franchise that started with 1987’s Three Men and a Baby and continued in 1990 with Three Men and a Little Lady. Doing the math, that means that the original baby would this year be turning 23. And that leads directly to the title, which Selleck revealed is tentatively Three Men and a Bride. There’s no word yet as to who exactly wrote the script, but Selleck says that a script does exist, although he hasn’t read it yet. Who would be directing Three Men and a Bride is also unknown. What is known is that Disney has checked the availability of Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg, which suggests a plan to start filming sooner rather than farther down the road. As for what it’s about, well, the title pretty much tells the story, presuming that you know that the “Three Men” who collectively raise the daughter of one of the men (Ted Danson). Three Men and a Baby was also an American remake of a French comedy called Three Men and a Cradle, which itself had a sequel called 18 Years After. This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas mostly just because of how long ago it was that moviegoers cared about the Three Men movies. Back then, for example, Steve Guttenberg actually was a major movie star, and Selleck and Danson both had hit TV shows. Will audiences still show up to see what these guys are doing 23 years later?
Sex and the City 2 opened in theaters last weekend, and did particularly less box office than many prognosticators expected. That, however, does not appear to be deterring New Line Cinema and Warner Bros from continuing to explore future possibilities for a third Sex and the City movie. This week, two different stories broke, and they both suggest differing approaches. First, there was this story that was mostly analyzed the reasons Sex and the City 2 didn’t do well as expected. Included in it is word that Warner Bros is waiting to see what sort of “legs” the sequel has before entirely ruling out a third film, which that story seems to suggest would be another movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon. Or, perhaps, that’s not what they’re intending at all. New Line Cinema has begun talks about adapting Candace Bushnell’s latest book The Carrie Diaries as a movie. The book is a prequel which centers on Carrie Bradshaw’s life as a high school student in Connecticut. Bushnell is also already working on a second book that would be about the young Carrie’s first year living in New York City. When asked in 2008, Candace Bushnell said that she imagined the young Carrie being played by Miley Cyrus. That particular bit of dream casting would probably also require a lot of accent training for the young actress/singer sort of famous for her southern twang. This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because the response to Sex and the City 2 is probably a reminder that what might have worked as a HBO series doesn’t necessarily translate into something that can hold up to a series of movies about the same characters.