This week’s Ketchup is chock full of casting news for movies like Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, Peter Jackson’s movies based on The Hobbit, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Warren Beatty’s movie about Howard Hughes, Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot, Man of Steel, and the seven British actors who will be the Dwarfs in Snow White and the Huntsman.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 WARREN BEATTY TO END 13 YEAR DIRECTING GAP WITH A COMEDY ABOUT… HOWARD HUGHES?
It has now been 10 years since Warren Beatty last starred in a movie (2001’s Town & Country) and 13 years since his last film as director (1998’s Bulworth). That decade away from filmmaking is especially noteworthy when one considers Warren Beatty’s place in Hollywood history, as one of the biggest stars and creative movers and shakers of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Unless, of course, one actually looks at his filmography, which reveals that Beatty never did actually make as many movies as one would expect, considering his fame. Beatty has also been responsible for a few duds, like Ishtar, Dick Tracy (arguably) and the aforementioned Town & Country. This week, however, saw the announcement of Beatty’s first film as director since Bulworth, and in a matter of days, it made the news three times. On Monday, Paramount Pictures announced the deal for the movie, which, at that time, was just described as a comedy, which Beatty wrote and will produce, as well as directing and starring in it. Two days later, it was revealed that Warren Beatty will be playing Howard Hughes, and that the movie will be about an affair that the recluse tycoon had late in his life with a much younger woman. Warren Beatty is currently 74, and Howard Hughes was 70 when he died, so the ages at least basically match up. Warren Beatty has also already started meeting with several stars to fill out the suppoting cast, including Alec Baldwin, Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, The Amazing Spider-Man), Shia La Beouf, Rooney Mara, Jack Nicholson, Evan Rachel Wood and Mrs. Warren Beatty, Annette Bening. It’s not yet known if some of these actors might be in talks for the same role, such as perhaps Mara and Wood, who might both be considered for the romantic interest. The inclusion of Alec Baldwin is interesting because Baldwin played Pan Am founder (and Hughes competitor) Juan Trippe in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, which suggests that possibly he could reprise that role in this movie as well. It’s also no surprise that Warren Beatty would want to work with his longtime friend, Jack Nicholson either. The movie still doesn’t have a title (that we know of), but it looks like Paramount and Beatty expect to start filming soon. The other movie that could be potentially impacted by Beatty’s project is Christopher Nolan’s planned movie about Howard Hughes’ later life.
#2 IDRIS ELBA TO LEAD THE DEFENSE OF GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PACIFIC RIM
Three years after The Wire went off the air, that show’s character Stringer Bell, played by Idris Elba, continues to land high profile roles as he gets closer to being a genuine movie star. In addition to his recent performance as Heimdall in Thor, Idris Elba will next be seen in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and in Ridley Scott’s we’re-not-calling-it-an-Alien-prequel-anymore science fiction action film Prometheus. This week, however, saw the announcement of what may be Idris Elba’s biggest role to date, as he landed a lead role that had originally been expected to be played by Tom Cruise. Elba has signed on with Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures for the lead role in Pacific Rim, the next film from director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy II: The Golden Army). Although much of the premise is still shrouded in secrecy, Pacific Rim is known to be about some sort of alien invasion that pits the human race against really large… somethings (probably robots, but maybe the aliens themselves, we don’t know). Idris Elba is the third actor to be cast in Pacific Rim, following Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) and Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Horrible Bosses). Guillermo del Toro’s name also came up in the news this week when Hellboy creator Mike Mignola was quoted as saying that he thinks that GDT will most likely not be ever making a Hellboy 3. This is mostly due to the many, many projects that del Toro already has on his plate. One of those is a new Frankenstein for Universal Pictures. However, since Mary Shelley’s novel is in the public domain, other studios can make their own Frankenstein movies, and 20th Century Fox is doing exactly that. Fox has hired Max Landis (John Landis’ son) to start writing a “new twist” on Frankenstein. Max Landis’ first film as screenwriter will be the supernatural thriller Chronicle, which is scheduled for release in February, 2012.
#3 KATE FROM LOST AND DAME EDNA JOIN THE CAST OF THE HOBBIT MOVIES
Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit will be stretched out across two movies, and feature a massive cast that both adds new characters and draws from Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. This has led to casting announcements for The Hobbit becoming an almost weekly tradition as of late, and this week was no exception. One of the new characters that Jackson is introducing is Tauriel the Woodland Elf, who will be played by Evangeline Lily, who is best known for starring as Kate in LOST. Evangeline Lily also dated her LOST costar Dominic Monaghan for five years (2004 to 2009), who himself first became famous for playing Merry in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies. Peter Jackson also announced that Australian actor/comedian Barry Humphries, who is best known for his Dame Edna alter ego, will be playing the Goblin King, which will be a CGI character similar to Gollum.
#4 SMILLA’S SENSE OF THE MAN OF STEEL
Last week, the big casting news for Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot Man of Steel was that Russell Crowe was (and still is) in talks to play Jor-El, his Kryptonian father. This week, Julia Ormond began talks with Warner Bros about playing Lara Lor-Van, Jor-El’s wife and Superman’s Kryptonian mother. Julia Ormond’s Hollywood profile has slowed down considerably in the last ten years, but in the 1990s, the English actress was something of an “It Girl,” appearing in a string of movies that included Sabrina, First Knight and Legends of the Fall. In addition to Russell Crowe and Julia Ormond, the cast of Man of Steel currently also includes Henry Cavill as Superman himself, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Antje Traue as Faora, and Harry Lennix and Michael Wincott in unknown roles. Filming of Man of Steel is scheduled to start soon in Chicago and Vancouver. Warner Bros has scheduled Man of Steel for sometime in December of 2012.
#5 THIS WEEK IN RON HOWARD NEWS: SPY VS. SPY, RUSH, AND AN UPDATE ON THE DARK TOWER
Director Ron Howard continues to collect movie projects the same way the Fonz collected girlfriends. First up this week was the news that Ron Howard is in early talks to direct Rush, the previously announced Formula 1 racing biopic about the rivalry between English racer James Hunt and Austrian racer Niki Lauda. Rush was adapted by screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen; cowriter of The Last King of Scotland), who previously worked with Ron Howard on Frost/Nixon. Within a few hours, however, Ron Howard’s name came up yet again, this time attached to a very different movie, although one also about a rivalry. Warner Bros is developing a live action adaptation of Spy vs Spy, the classic MAD Magazine strip about two nearly identical (one in black, the other in white) spies who are eternally locked in a battle of wits and attempts to kill the other using traps and bombs. Ron Howard is attached to direct Spy vs Spy, as well as produce through his Imagine Entertainment with partner Brian Grazer. David Koepp is also producing, and will oversee the adaptation with his screenwriter partner John Kamps, who worked with Koepp on Ghost Town and Zathura. Amidst all this, this week, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer also took some time to discuss their ambitious movie and TV plans for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, which earlier this year hit a snag at Universal Pictures, but is still in development and moving forward.
#6 IAN MCSHANE LEADS THE DWARFS IN SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
Last month, the actors who will be playing the Seven Dwarfs in the Snow White comedy starring Julia Roberts were announced, and it read like a who’s who of “little person” actors. This week, it was Universal Pictures’s turn, as the studio announced negotiations with several British actors (who are not themselves little people) to costar in Snow White and the Huntsman. First up was Ian McShane, who is still best known for playing Al Swearengen in Deadwood, but was also recently impressive as Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Ian McShane is in talks to play Caesar, the leader of the band of dwarfs, and his name is a hint to the naming theme in this version. Ian McShane’s news was soon followed by five more: Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), Eddie Izzard (Valkyrie), Toby Jones (Infamous), Steven Graham (Gangs of New York) and Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes). Toby Jones would play a timid dwarf named Claudius, Eddie Izzard would play a burly dwarf named Tiberius, and Bob Hoskins would play a blind dwarf named Constantine (see the pattern here?). Finally, Ray Winstone was the seventh actor announced, as he is in talks to play Trajan, the twin brother of Hadrian (Marsan). The rest of the already announced cast of Snow White and the Huntsman includes Kristen Stewart as a princess who escapes her evil stepmother (Charlize Theron) and is aided by the huntsman (Chris Hemsworth of Thor) who was supposed to have killed her. Snow White and the Huntsman will start filming in Europe later this summer, and will be directed by Rupert Sanders, who will be making his debut with this movie. Universal Pictures has scheduled Snow White and the Huntsman for June 1, 2012, a little over two months after the March 16, 2012 release of the other Snow White movie to be directed by Tarsem Singh (The Fall, The Cell). For those wondering why one of the Snow White movies is in the Fresh Development category this week, it’s because of the actors in this story, nearly all of whom are quite talented and generally awesome.
#7 THIS WEEK IN MUSICAL BIOPICS: TIM AND JEFF BUCKLEY AND BRIAN WILSON
Penn Badgley of the TV show Gossip Girl was announced this week as being signed to star as ill-fated musician Jeff Buckley in the independent biopic Greetings from Tim Buckley. Musicians Tim Buckley and Jeff Buckley share a father-son story that includes them both dying at early ages. Tim Buckley OD’ed on heroin at the age of 28 in 1975, while his son Jeff Buckley drowned at the age of 30 in 1997. The setting of Greetings from Tim Buckley will be the 1991 memorial concert that helped launch his son’s musical career. Greetings from Tim Buckley will be directed by Dan Algrant (People I Know, Naked in New York), and has a group of producers whose credits include Boys Don’t Cry, Mississippi Burning and You Can Count On Me. The Buckleys weren’t the only musicians to get movie news this week, however. Screenwriter Oren Moverman, cowriter of Jesus’ Son and the Bob Dylan quasi-biopic I’m Not There has signed a deal to adapt the life of Beach Boys founder and songwriter Brian Wilson into a movie. The Brian Wilson biopic is being produced by Bill Pohlad (The Tree of Life) and John Wells (TV’s ER and The West Wing). Oren Moverman also has a biopic about the life of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain in development at Universal Pictures, which he will also direct. Moverman’s next film as screenwriter will be Rampart, an ensemble drama about the LAPD Rampart corruption scandal.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 COMEDY DIRECTOR SIGNS DEAL FOR ARTHUR & LANCELOT
Warner Bros is in the business of collecting movie projects based on the legend of King Arthur, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table. The studio already has in development a remake of Excalibur from director Bryan Singer, another King Arthur project from director Guy Ritchie, and a prequel project called The Lost Years of Merlin, announced earlier this year. This week, that buying spree continued with a $2 million deal with comedy director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers, Shanghai Knights, Fred Claus). David Dobkin wrote a spec script called Arthur & Lancelot which is a $90 million “contemporary re-imagining of the classic tale,” which, one has to presume, based on Dobkin’s comedy background, will also be comedic in nature. Warner Bros appears to be attempting to avoid the “dueling projects” conundrums that other studios are facing with movies based on fantasy tales like Snow White, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, etc. Warner Bros probably won’t actually produce all of these King Arthur projects, but by keeping them in house, the studio is also preventing the competition from beating them to the punch by drawing Excalibur first. This is a borderline Rotten Idea based mostly on it being yet another new entry in the already crowded field of movie projects based upon classic tales.
#1 THE 1980S REMAKE MARATHON CONTINUES WITH WARGAMES
This week saw the online premiere of the trailer for Paramount Pictures’ remake of Footloose, and around the same time, this story came out about yet another cherished 1980s teen movie getting the remake treatment. MGM has been focusing much of the studio’s efforts on remakes, with such projects as Carrie, Poltergeist, Red Dawn and Robocop. This week, MGM continued this trend yet again with the announcement of plans to remake the 1983 Matthew Broderick thriller WarGames. Director Seth Gordon, who made his debut with the documentary The King of Kong, and has since directed Four Christmases and Horrible Bosses, is signed to develop the remake. The original WarGames was about a teenage hacker who starts playing games with a military computer, only to discover that what he was actually doing was potentially starting World War III. Although video games are even more popular now than in 1983, something that has changed substantially is the sense of paranoia about nuclear war, which was very much what WarGames was about. And that’s why the WarGames remake is this week’s most Rotten Idea.