This week’s Ketchup includes casting news for Pirates of the Caribbean 4, news of a Zoolander sequel and a Speedy Gonzalez movie and new projects for Angelina Jolie, Matt Damon, Ryan Reynolds and director Kevin Smith. And happily, this is a week with zero remakes (well, there is sort of one, but we’ll let Doc Savage slide by) or movies based on kids’ toys or games. Progress!
Ian McShane, the popular star of Deadwood (as antiquated potty mouth Al Swearengen) is in talks with Disney to costar in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Ian McShane will play the villain of the film, and it’s a famous (and real life) pirate at that: Blackbeard, AKA Edward Teach. Already cast are Johnny Depp (of course) as Jack Sparrow and Penelope Cruz, who was announced a couple of weeks ago. The franchise is getting a new director for the fourth film in the form of Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine). The script, which involves a search for the legendary Fountain of Youth, was written by Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot, who also worked together on the first three films. The title appears to come from the book On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, which Disney owns the movie rights to. Powers’ book is also about a pirate named Jack, the search for the Fountain of Youth, and it also features Blackbeard. Filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides starts later this summer in Hawaii, and Disney has scheduled the film for a May 20, 2011 release date.
As reported previously, The First Avenger: Captain America is currently in the screen testing stage, part of the process of finding the young star that will play World War II super soldier Steve Rogers. There are seven guys that are currently being considered, which is a long list, but here you go (alphabetically): Michael Cassidy (Privileged), Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl), Patrick Flueger (Brothers), Garret Hedlund (Eragon), John Krasinski (The Office), Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights) and Mike Vogel (Cloverfield). Absent from that list are Robert Buckley (Privileged) and Jensen Ackles (Supernatural), both of whom have scheduling conflicts, and that’s why they’re not screen testing. Of those seven, the one that really stands out as a “wtf?” choice is John Krasinski, who does not seem to fit the Steve Rogers “type” at all, except that perhaps he fits in director Joe Johnston’s idea of making Rogers more of a Peter Parker-style “underdog” character. Of everyone that’s been considered, I think Jensen Ackles seems like the best choice, so his scheduling conflict is unfortunate. As for these other guys, this writer is not familiar with a lot of these shows or their stars, honestly. Part of the reason you’re not seeing any big names in that list is that the offer for the first film is only $300,000, and it includes an option for up to NINE movies that include The Avengers, sequels, and any other movies that Marvel wants to put Captain America in. Finally, I should note that there is a rumor swirling around, which Marvel publicists are being quick to quell, that Joe Johnston is being replaced, and The First Avenger: Captain America delayed, because of the poor performance of The Wolfman. I’ve always thought that Johnston was a weak choice for the movie anyway, as the potential World War II epic seems perfect for a director with a bit more critical heft. Joe Johnston did direct October Sky, but mostly his movies have been of the blockbuster-wannabe mediocrity stamp. RT editor-in-chief Matt Atchity and I have bandied about dream directors, and our list includes Steven Soderbergh, David Mamet, Martin Scorsese and Philip Kaufman. Who’s your dream Captain America director, and from that list, who do you think Marvel should pick?
Zoolander is a very funny comedy that didn’t do as well at theaters as its cultural popularity would suggest. The simple reason (I believe, anyway) is that it was released two weeks after September 11, and the world wasn’t quite ready yet for that type of movie. If it had been released at a different time, Zoolander might have been a very big hit. Ben Stiller apparently still believes in the male fashion model parody that was Derek Zoolander, and so does Paramount Pictures, as they are moving ahead with plans for Zoolander 2. Justin Theroux, who cowrote Tropic Thunder with Ben Stiller (and Etan Cohen), and also wrote this year’s Iron Man 2, is working on the Zoolander 2 script. Theroux, who made his directing debut with 2007’s Dedication, is also attached to direct (and the guy is also an actor, very busy!). Everyone involved hopes that Owen Wilson will also return as Zoolander’s rival model, Hanson, but no deal is in place yet. The villain for the sequel is likely to be played by Jonah Hill, who is in talks for the role. Zoolander 2, however, isn’t the only new project for Stiller this week, as he is attached to star in Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist, which was formerly known as Trump Heist. Back when the movie was expected to be like a “black Ocean’s 11,” it would have featured stars like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Chris Tucker, but Tower Heist is being rewritten to better suit guys like Ben Stiller.
Anyone who’s seen Wanted knows that the idea of a sequel has always seemed sort of odd, as the movie sort of ends perfectly. The idea of somehow shoehorning Angelina Jolie’s character for continuing assassin highjinx only adds to the incredulity of the proposed sequel. The good news, therefore, is that Angelina Jolie has definitively pulled out of the Wanted sequel, and as a response, Universal Pictures has pulled the plug on the movie. That brings up the subject of what is next for Jolie, who is currently filming The Tourist with Johnny Depp (as anyone who’s stood in line for groceries recently knows). It’s looking like her next project may be a Warner Bros space thriller called Gravity, which is about the last survivor of a space mission who is desperately trying to get back to Earth and her daughter. Like this year’s overlooked (by the Oscars) indie hit Moon and the way it was all about Sam Rockwell, Gravity will be a movie that features almost entirely Angelina Jolie for the entirety of the film. The director of Gravity is very promising, as it’s Alfonso Cuaron, who has pleased movie fans with Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and also delivered a great road movie story with Y Tu Mama Tambien. Cuaron cowrote the Gravity script with his 28-year-old son, Jonas.
Hollywood is slowly returning to Greek mythology, following Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and the upcoming release of the remake of Clash of the Titans. The next big project in that mold is War of the Gods, which will be directed by Tarsem Singh (The Fall, The Cell). War of the Gods tells the story of Theseus, a Hercules-like hero most famous for his encounter with the Minotaur in the labyrinth, which was just one of his many adventures. Theseus will be played by the already announced Henry Cavill, one of the stars of Showtime’s The Tudors. Joining Cavill this week is Freida Pinto, the costar of Slumdog Millionaire, who will play Phaedra, an oracle priestess. Another casting possibility is Mickey Rourke, who would play King Hyperion, but the timing of filming is forcing Rourke to choose between War of the Gods and Conan, in which Rourke would play Corin, the barbarian warrior’s father. War of the Gods isn’t currently attached to a distributor, but is instead being co-produced by a few different companies. Filming of War of the Gods is scheduled to start on April 7th, 2010.
Hollywood has been trying to bring the classic pulp hero Doc Savage back to the silver screen since the 1980s, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was being considered for the role. Now, the project seems to actually be going somewhere with the news that Lethal Weapon creator Shane Black will direct Doc Savage, following his first movie as director, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Black is being assisted on writing Doc Savage by the writing team of Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Mondry, who have no produced films to their credit, but are working on Black’s Cold Warrior, which Mel Gibson is attached to star in. Doc Savage is a pulp hero who has appeared in novels, radio, comic books and the 1975 movie Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Doc Savage is a classic renaissance man who combines physical brawn with brains, and he is helped by a diverse group of specialists. The character has been referenced (and mostly spoofed) in things like The Venture Bros and The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension, and the classic cartoon Johnny Quest also has very similar elements to Doc Savage.
Like most famous directors, Kevin Smith always has a few different movies that might be his next movie (which in his case include Ranger Danger and the Danger Rangers, the horror movie Red State and a possible Clerks 3). This week, Smith added another project to his slateby announcing that he wants to make a hockey movie called Hit Somebody, starring his Cop Out star Seann William Scott. Smith, displaying loyalty to his favorite sport, chose to announce this movie not via the trades, but through NHL.com. Scott has starred in many comedies in the last ten years, but he remains most closely associated with Stifler from the American Pie movies. Kevin Smith sees Hit Somebody as Scott’s chance to graduate to a higher level as a star, comparing him to Tom Hanks, who also started off with comedies. Calling Hit Somebody “big, epic in scale,” Kevin Smith also clearly sees this hockey story, which will span 30 years, as something that will potentially stand out from his usual fare as well.
Matt Damon has signed with New Regency (which mostly distributes through 20th Century Fox) to star as Robert F. Kennedy in a planned biopic about the slain politician. Damon’s deal depends, however, on his approval of the script, which will determine whether the movie ever actually gets made. The screenwriter that has to pass Damon’s muster is Steven Knight, whose three produced movies to date are Eastern Promises, Amazing Grace and Dirty Pretty Things. Knight is working from the RFK biography His Life by Evan Thomas. Steven Knight is also working on adapting Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, the third to feature the Robert Langdon character from The Da Vinci Code. As for RFK himself, for those who aren’t familiar with him, he was of course the younger brother of President John F. Kennedy, served controversially as JFK’s attorney general, was elected as a New York Senator in 1964, and ran for president himself in 1968. The day of Kennedy’s assassination was adapted to film by Emilio Estevez in 2006 as Bobby, but Kennedy himself was not one of the central characters of the ensemble drama.
The Broken Lizard comedy troupe has signed with Universal Pictures to produce two movies, the first of which is called Rogue Scholars. None of the Broken Lizard guys (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Hefferman, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhankse) are stars in their own right, but their five films to date include Beerfest and Super Troopers, which was also a Sundance hit, and has become something of a fan sensation. Their latest movie, The Slammin’ Salmon, was ill-received by critics (33% RT score), and did very little at the box office in December. Universal still has faith in the guys, however, and has signed the troupe for both Rogue Scholars and an untitled movie that no details have been revealed for yet. Rogue Scholars will revolve around five unruly professors, but part of Universal’s scheme to bring Broken Lizard to a wider audience lies in the rest of the cast. A younger generation of comedians will be cast as the students, and older comedians will be cast as the administration. So, that three different age ranges will be represented in this very generational comedy.
DreamWorks Animation has announced their 3D CGI animated release for March 30, 2012, and it’s called The Croods. Nicolas Cage and Ryan Reynolds will provide the lead voice roles in the comedy set in prehistoric caveman times. Cage will play Grug, the leader of a caveman family, and Reynolds will play an “outsider whose new ideas challenge the patriarch’s authority.” The story also revolves around a violent earthquake that forces Grug and his family to search for a new home, and Grug also has a daughter who falls for Reynolds’ character. The Croods was written by Chris Sanders (cowriter of Mulan, How to Train Your Dragon) and Kirk DeMicco (cowriter of Space Chimps), based upon a screenplay originally written by DeMicco and John Cleese (of Monty Python fame). Chris Sanders is also directing The Croods, which marks his first solo project, after codirecting Lilo & Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon. In other animated CGI news, CHUD is reporting on an unconfirmed rumor that Pixar may have scrapped plans for Newt, their amphibian adventure, leaving its 2012 slot open for Monsters, Inc. 2 instead.
New Line Cinema has announced plans to bring the classic Looney Tunes character Speedy Gonzalez to the big screen. Voicing the energetic Mexican speedster mouse will be comedian/actor George Lopez (one guess as to what his sitcom was called). Speedy Gonzalez is being written by Alec Cohen and Alec Sokolow, who are best known as the writing team behind the two Garfield movies. Here’s how producer Ann Lopez describes the movie version of Speedy Gonzalez, “Speedy’s going to be a misunderstood boy who comes from a family that works in a very meticulous setting, and he’s a little too fast for what they do. He makes a mess of that. So he has to go out in the world to find what he’s good at.” There’s no denying that there was a lot about the original cartoons that was borderline racist. However, Speedy Gonzalez was still one of my favorite Looney Tunes, as those cartoons were just so energetic, with a suitably fast pace and a lot of fun. So, I really want to be optimistic about a Speedy Gonzalez movie. However, the involvement of the Garfield guys, and the general tone of recent CGI cartoon adaptations like Alvin and the Chipmunks makes me have to predict that this movie is probably going to disappoint a lot of Speedy’s older fans. And that’s why it’s this week’s Rotten Idea.