Weekly Ketchup

Weekly Ketchup: J.J. Abrams On Board For Star Wars

Plus, a bunch of stories that aren't about J.J. Abrams directing Episode VII.

by | January 25, 2013 | Comments

This week’s Ketchup includes movie development news for directors like Paul Thomas Anderson and David Fincher, sequels for The Best Man and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and the latest about the seventh Star Wars movie.


This Week’s Top Story

J.J. ABRAMS’ CONQUEST OF EVERY MAJOR FRANCHISE TO CONTINUE WITH STAR WARS EPISODE VII

If you saw monsters like this or this or this, and thought “hey, the director and/or producer of that movie should do Star Wars“, you are probably a) alone in that sentiment and b) very happy with this week’s news. J.J. Abrams has won some sort of crazy creative lottery by scoring not just the first two Star Trek reboot movies, but now, the distinction of directing Star Wars Episode VII as well. J.J. Abrams had been one of the many directors mentioned in various reports in the last few months, but most thought his Star Trek obligations would preclude him from doing Star Wars as well (and indeed, Abrams himself shot down the notion). The reaction that many probably had to the initial news earlier this week was that they were waiting for confirmation, so, well, here it is. As secretive as J.J. Abrams’ work has been with his two Star Trek movies, he’s expected to be even more guarded about Star Wars Episode VII. Which may even be part of why he got the job.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 JOAQUIN PHOENIX TO REUNITE WITH THE MASTER DIRECTOR FOR INHERENT VICE

Besides The Master, the project that director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) has been working on for a few years now is an adaptation of the drug-soaked late 1960s detective novel Inherent Vice (written in 2009 by Thomas Pynchon). For a while, Robert Downey, Jr. was loosely attached (or was at least “interested”), but this week, we learned that instead, Joaquin Phoenix is now in talks to play the detective. Inherent Vice is now the film project most considered likely to be PTA’s next, which will make it a back-to-back reunion with the star of The Master. In addition to directing, Paul Thomas Anderson also adapted the screenplay from Thomas Pynchon’s novel. Oracle heiress Megan Ellison is financing Inherent Vice through her Annapurna Pictures production company, which also recently gave us Lawless, Killing Them Softly, Zero Dark Thirty, as well as The Master.

#2 WARNER BROS CONTINUES ITS GIANT OBSESSION WITH ROBOTECH

It’s very easy to see a thorough line among Warner Bros’ releases for the next few years, with “giant” as a common theme. It starts with Jack the Giant Slayer, and then continues with the giant monsters and robots of Pacific Rim, and the reboot in 2014 of that original giant monster, Godzilla. This week, the studio hired commercials director Nic Mathieu to potentially make his feature film debut on an adaptation of the classic Japanese anime series Robotech. If Robotech is eventually released as soon as 2015, this could effectively create a back and forth alternation between giant monsters in even years and giant robots in odd years (presuming… a lot, obviously). Robotech (in its various forms) is one of the most famous examples of “mech” science fiction, which basically refers to giant robots controlled by humans. And then they fight.

#3 DAVID FINCHER MAY FIND REESE WITHERSPOON’S GONE GIRL

What often happens with extremely successful directors like David Fincher is that they will have these huge lists of ambitious projects on their slates, but none of them are necessarily ready to go, for various reasons. And then, along comes a completely different movie which does have everything in position, and said famous director signs on, makes that movie his next film instead, and two years later, the world is still waiting for all those other movies we kept hearing about. That scenario may end up being what happens with David Fincher this year, as he is considering directing an adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel Gone Girl (and not, say, directing Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea anytime this year). Gone Girl, which was adapted for the big screen by Flynn as well, is a recent bestseller about a man who is suspected of murdering his wife following her disappearance on their fifth wedding anniversary. Reese Witherspoon is producing Gone Girl, and may (or may not) also end up starring as the aforementioned missing wife.

#4 THE 60TH MOST POPULAR MOVIE OF 1999 GETS THAT SEQUEL NO ONE THOUGHT OF ASKING FOR: THE BEST MAN 2

Among the top 10 most successful movies of 1999 were several that ended up getting sequels, so natrually it’s easier to list the films that didn’t (including The Sixth Sense, Tarzan, Big Daddy, and Runaway Bride). You have to keep scrolling down that list for a while until you get to the #60 most popular movie of 1999, which was the African American-centric ensemble comedy The Best Man. And yet, according to an announcement made by Universal Pictures this week, that’s the movie that will indeed be getting a sequel, which will be in theaters on November 15, 2013. The Best Man scored a 71% on the RT Tomatometer, and featured a cast that included Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, and Harold Perrineau, Jr. Part of the big news here is that the entire cast is returning for the as-yet-untitled sequel in a Christmas-themed reunion story. It all sounds a bit like an African American version of The Big Chill (sans one of them being dead, unless that’s what it would have been if one of them had chosen not to sign on for it…?).

#5 CHLOE MORETZ SAYS I WILL STAY TO IF I STAY

What superhero movies were to the mid-2000s, and remakes were to the late 2000s, so, it seems, that girl-friendly YA novel adaptations might be to the mid-early 2010s (to paraphrase Hedwig and the Angry Inch). There’s a lot of them coming in 2013, and this story involves one that will probably get released in 2014, if filming does actually start this year. The YA novel in question is If I Stay by Gayle Forman, which tells the story of a 17-year-old girl who has an out-of-body experience following a car accident. A few years ago, If I Stay had both Dakota Fanning and Catherine Hardwicke attached as star and director, but as the movie gets closer to production, there’s now a completely different pair attached. Now, it’s Chloe Moretz who’s attached to star, and R.J. Cutler of ABC’s Nashville is in talks to make his narrative feature film debut. Consider this a borderline Fresh/Rotten idea which is basically Fresh based mostly on the RT Tomatometer scores for Chloe Moretz’s past films (especially if you just focus on 2008 to 2011).

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#4 THE LATEST JUSTICE LEAGUE RUMOR TELLS US THE LINEUP WE PROBABLY COULD HAVE GUESSED

If you take out the Star Wars news, this was actually a pretty slow week. Rarely would we devote an entire 1/10 of this column to a rumor about which characters may or may not be appearing in Justice League. Perhaps that little tidbit alone could be why this is a borderline Rotten Idea of a story. Anyway, the rumor (which is what this is until it’s confirmed) is that the core team of the first Justice League movie will consist of five superheroes, who would be pretty easy to guess just based on the idea of asking the random fan who are the five most famous DC Comics superheroes. The answer would be Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the Flash, which are the five heroes in question. Indeed, if you add Aquaman and Martian Manhunter to those five, you get the “Big Seven” lineup that Grant Morrison famously used when he rebooted JLA back in 1997. Aquaman and Martian Manhunter are also the two characters named as being strong contenders to have cameo appearances in Justice League, along with Hawkman. So, basically, Justice League is starting to look like a “sausage fest,” which is a little sad considering how many great female members the JLA has had over the years (Black Canary, Hawkgirl, Zatanna, Oracle, Huntress, etc). That’s the other half of why this is a (borderline) Rotten Idea… way too many superheroic Y chromosomes.

#3 SONY PICTURES THROWS THE GENRE KITCHEN SINK AT US AND CALLS IT… THE KITCHEN SINK

This movie could’ve actually ended up as a “Fresh Development” just on the title alone, until one actually thinks about the premise, and considers the likelihood that it probably won’t be as clever as it probably thinks it will be. The Kitchen Sink is the name of a young-skewing genre movie from Sony Pictures which is about a human, a vampire, and a zombie who team up to fight off an alien invasion; it’s basically a mashup. Mackenzie Davis, Nicholas Braun, and Josh Fadem are in talks for the lead roles, and you’ll probably find the IMDb useful in figuring out if you actually know who those people are. This writer just thinks about movies for a living all week, and yeah… I’ve got nothing.

#2 DWAYNE JOHNSON MAY RETURN TO FAMILY MOVIES WITH TEDDY BEAR

It’s great now in 2013 that Dwayne Johnson is back to doing more action movies that are his more obvious strong suit, but it wasn’t that long ago (like 12 months ago!) that Johnson was mostly just starring in kids movies. Well, that era may be revisited soon enough, as he has come aboard as producer (and possibly star) on a New Line Cinema family fantasy project tentatively called Teddy Bear. The start of the movie came from a drawing called “Sweet Halloween Dreams” by Alex Panagopoulos which showed a teddy bear standing near a sleeping child, fending off a big monster. And from that, we get the potential impetus for an entire 90+ minute movie, complete with characters, and dialogue, and more than one scene. Ah, Hollywood.

#1 CROUCHING FREDDY, HIDDEN JASON

Considering how great Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was (especially within the context of when it was released), one would think that the long-talked-about sequel couldn’t possibly be considered a “Rotten Idea.” Well, that’s until the hypothetical “one” hears that the director of the sequel will be Ronny Yu (Freddy Vs Jason, Bride of Chucky, Formula 51), and not, say, Ang Lee. Anyway, the sequel will be an adaptation of the fourth book in the Crane-Iron Pentalogy by Wang Du Lu known in English as Silver Vase, Iron Knight. The Weinstein Company will be distributing Silver Vase, Iron Knight in the USA (and producing the production in Asia when it starts filming this coming May). Silver Vase, Iron Knight continues the story of the character of Yu Shu Lien, played in the first film by Michelle Yeoh, although it is not yet known if she will be returning for the sequel.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.

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