Following San Diego Comic-Con last weekend, movie news slowed to a trickle this week, mostly consisting of last minute news from the convention, and a few other stories. What news did happen this week includes new movies for Kevin Bacon, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack and Harrison Ford, a sequel to Wolf Creek, an adaptation of The Nutcracker, and two very different cowboy movies.
This Week’s Top Story
COWBOYS & ALIENS STAR HARRISON FORD TO PLAY OLD MAN WYATT EARP IN BLACK HATS
Cowboys & Aliens opens in theaters this weekend, but Harrison Ford isn’t quite done playing aging cowboys just yet. The actor who gave the world both Han Solo and Indiana Jones has signed on to star as the aging Wyatt Earp in Black Hats, an adaptation of the novel by Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition). Blending real historical figures with fiction, Black Hats tells the story of how 1920s Hollywood detective and movie consultant Wyatt Earp teams up with Bat Masterson to take on Al Capone in New York City when he learns that Doc Holliday’s son has gotten into trouble with the mobster. So, basically, to follow up Cowboys & Aliens, Harrison Ford just signed on to a movie that could be called Cowboys & Mobsters. Black Hats is being adapted by screenwriter Kurt Johnstad, who cowrote 300, and is now also adapting that film’s sequel 300: Battle of Artemisia. There’s no word yet on when Black Hats will start filming, or who will be directing. Harrison Ford is likely to be just the first big star to sign on for the film, as the roles of Bat Masterson and Al Capone also seem to be ripe for big name movie stars to portray.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING TRUE STORIES OF 2010 TO BECOME A MOVIE IN 2013
Producer Mike Medavoy (Zodiac, Black Swan, Shutter Island) has signed an agreement with two Chilean businessmen to develop a feature film based upon the true story of the 33 miners trapped in the Copiapó copper/gold mine in 2010. Following a cave in, the 33 miners and support personnel were trapped half a mile underground for a record 69 days before eventually being rescued. Screenwriter Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries, Trade) will adapt the miners’ stories. An official book is being written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Hector Tobar, and since this film is also being called “official,” some of the same material may also be used in the adaptation. Filming of this currently untitled project is expected to start sometime in 2012. It is not yet known whether this movie will be filmed in Spanish or English.
#2 GERARD WAY’S THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY IS THE LATEST SUPERHERO MOVIE PROJECT
In 2008, Gerard Way, the leader singer of My Chemical Romance, got into the comic book business with The Umbrella Academy, a six issue limited series about a group of kid superheroes who reunite years later after their adoptive father dies. Now, Rawson Thurber (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) has signed on to do a rewrite of The Umbrella Academy, and possibly direct. The first draft was by Mark Bomback (Unstoppable; cowriter of Live Free and Die Hard), who also cowrote Bryan Singer’s upcoming Jack the Giant Killer. To give you an idea of what kind of movie The Umbrella Academy could be, when they were kids, the heroes defeated the Eiffel Tower after it was turned by a zombie robot into a giant monster that shot lasers. That was just one of two news stories involving Rawson Thurber this week. Thurber also has come aboard to direct We’re the Millers, a drug comedy to star Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Horrible Bosses) as a low level drug dealer who concocts a plan to smuggle 1,400 pounds of marijuana using a rented RV and a fake family as a cover story.
#3 JOAN ALLEN AND ALBERT FINNEY CONNECT THE BOURNE LEGACY TO THE MATT DAMON MOVIES
Although Matt Damon won’t be returning as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Legacy, this week, two actors from The Bourne Ultimatum signed on to reprise their roles. Joan Allen costarred as CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy in The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, while Albert Finney played Dr. Albert Hirsch, the man in charge of the Treadstone behavior modification program, in The Bourne Ultimatum. Jeremy Renner will be playing one of the other assassins that was trained by Treadwell, Rachel Weisz will be costarring as the new agent’s romantic interest, and Oscar Issacs is also signed in an unknown role. Edward Norton is still in talks to play the film’s primary villain/antagonist. Director Tony Gilroy (Duplicity, Michael Clayton), who also wrote or cowrote the first three films, will be directing The Bourne Legacy, as well as cowriting with his brother Dan Gilroy (Two for the Money; cowriter of The Fall). Universal Pictures has already scheduled The Bourne Legacy for release on August 3, 2012.
#4 KEVIN BACON RETURNS TO EVIL IN R.I.P.D.
Kevin Bacon earned critical praise as Sebastian Shaw, the central villain in this summer’s X-Men: First Class. Now, the actor has signed on for another villainous role in Universal Pictures’ adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics series R.I.P.D. Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges are already signed to star as a rookie/veteran buddy cop team who work for an agency of deceased lawmen who fight supernatural criminals and monsters. R.I.P.D. will be directed by Robert Schwentke (Red, Flightplan) from a script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, the screenwriting team behind Aeon Flux and Crazy/Beautiful (they also cowrote Clash of the Titans). Universal Pictures has already scheduled R.I.P.D. for the pre-Independence Day weekend of June 28, 2013. Kevin Bacon playing another villain, as well as the idea of Jeff Bridges playing an undead cowboy lawman are both “Fresh” ideas, but the rest of the creative people involved with R.I.P.D. lands it in the borderline area.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#5 NICOLAS CAGE AND JOHN CUSACK STUCK TO THE FROZEN GROUND
John Cusack and Nicolas Cage are in talks to star in The Frozen Ground, a crime drama based upon the true story of Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen. John Cusack would play Hansen, who abducted over 20 women over a 12 year period, flying them into the Alaskan wilderness to be hunted and eventually killed. Nicolas Cage is in talks to play the Alaskan State Trooper who finds Hansen’s only surviving victim, who teams up with the young girl to bring Hansen to justice. The Frozen Ground will be produced by the independent company Emmett/Furla (16 Blocks, 88 Minutes, Righteous Kill). Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is also one of the film’s executive producers. The Frozen Ground was adapted by newcomer screenwriter Scott Walker, who will also make his debut as director when filming starts this fall in Anchorage, Alaska.
#4 THIS WEEK IN FAIRY TALE ADAPTATIONS: THE NUTCRACKER
Universal Pictures has picked up rights to a pitch based upon the 1816 German story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman, which went on to inspire the Tchaikovsky ballet The Nutcracker. This new movie based on The Nutcracker will be a live action adventure about a 12 year old girl who receives a Nutcracker doll as a gift. That leads to “an adventure that includes a war involving a seven-headed Mouse King and his army of mice, curses and themes of ugliness and beauty.” The pitch was made by the screenwriting team of Jon Gunn and Jon Mann, whose only previous credit is the 2000 Eric Roberts film Mercy Streets. Universal’s The Nutcracker is actually now the second movie in development based on that story, with the other being developed by the producers of The Twilight Saga.
#3 THE GNOMEO & JULIET TEAM REUNITES FOR COWBOY FANTASY
Elton John’s Rocket Pictures is reuniting with Gnomeo & Juliet writer/director Kelly Asbury for an adaptation of Derek Keilty’s Will Gallows and the Snake Bellied Troll, the first in a series of British children’s books. Set in a world that combines fantasy with the Wild West, Will Gallows and the Snake Bellied Troll is the story of “a young Elfing sky cowboy” who sets out to bring Noose Womworx the troll to justice for the murder of his father, the former deputy sheriff of Oretown. Like Gnomeo & Juliet, Will Gallows and the Snake Bellied Troll is expected to heavily feature musical elements. Unlike that film, however, it will feature both live action (probably Will Gallows) and CGI (probably the Snake Bellied Troll).
#2 MORE CRAZY AUSSIE TORTURING IN WOLF CREEK 2
Australian horror director Greg McLean (Rogue, Wolf Creek) has received the financing he needs to move ahead with plans for a sequel to the 2005 torture/captivity movie Wolf Creek. The premise for the sequel sounds nearly identical to the first film, as three backpackers in the Australian Outback encounter an evil torturer (John Jarratt reprising the role), who chases and then tortures and kills them. Wolf Creek 2 is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas mostly because the first film received a Rotten Tomatometer score (53%), but also because the whole “torture horror” genre seems over played at this point.
#1 ACTION DIRECTOR ENLISTS FOR KOREAN WAR EPIC 1950
Action director Rob Cohen (xXx, The Fast and Furious, Stealth) has signed on to direct a $100 million Korean War epic called 1950 (the year the war started). 1950 will be the most expensive film ever produced by the Korean film industry, and is scheduled to start filming in May of 2012 for a release in the spring of 2013. 1950 will be based on true stories of the Korean War as depicted by New York Herald Tribune journalist Marguerite Higgins, for which she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize. The producers are in talks with unspecified “A-list Hollywood and Asian talents” for the lead roles of Marguerite Higgins, Captain Darren, the leader of a platoon of Marines, and a Korean KATUSA named Sunjae Lee. KATUSA stands for Korean Augmentation to the United States Army, and refers to Korean soldiers who fight alongside American soldiers. General Douglas MacArthur is also expected to be depicted in 1950 as a supporting cast member. The script is being adapted by screenwriters Rachel Long and Brian Pittman, whose first produced credit will be the upcoming independent film Silver Falls. 1950 is the week’s most Rotten Idea mostly because Rob Cohen’s reputation as an over-the-top action director makes the concept of him directing a Korean War epic seem a bit too much like Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor.
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.