With Independence Day right in the middle, this week was so slow for movie news, that this Weekly Ketchup almost didn’t even have 10 stories to include (normal weeks have more like 20-40 stories altogether). The stories that did actually get announced this week include casting news for the next Hunger Games sequel, a new Stephen King adaptation, and new roles for Samuel L. Jackson and Viggo Mortensen.
This Week’s Top Story
JENA MALONE JOINS THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
Weeks of speculation over the casting of District 7 tribute Johanna Mason in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire came to an end this week. 27 year old Jenna Malone (Donnie Darko, Stepmom) is in negotiations for the role, which will also be featured in the third film, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. What everyone seems to mention about Johanna Mason, so this writer will mention too, is that she strips out of her costume in her first encounter with Katniss. Jenna Malone will be of course joined by several of the actors from the first film (whose characters survived). Filming of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is scheduled to start in late September, 2012 under the direction of Francis Lawrence (Constantine, Water for Elephants, I Am Legend).
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 JENNIFER HUDSON, SAM JACKSON AND ANGELA BASSETT IN TALKS FOR BLACK NATIVITY
Black Nativity is the title of an off-and-on Broadway musical written by Langston Hughes that features traditional Christmas carols sung in a gospel style. Black Nativity tells the traditional Nativity tale of the birth of Jesus Christ within a larger story of a teenager spending Christmas with his grandparents. The production first premiered in 1961, but now over 50 years later, it is on its way to becoming a musical feature film thanks to Fox Searchlight and director/writer Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou, Talk to Me). Jennifer Hudson is now in talks to play the boy’s mother, and for the roles of the grandparents, negotiations are ongoing with Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson, who is also likely to play multiple roles within the Nativity scenes.
#2 VIGGO MORTENSEN IS ONE OF THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY
Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac (Drive, Sucker Punch) have signed on to star in The Two Faces of January, an adaptation of a novel by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley). Oscar Isaac will play the proprietor of a rundown Athens hotel, and Viggo Mortenson will play a man involved with “stock manipulation and fraud.” The third major role yet to be cast is that of Mortenson’s wife. The Two Faces of January will be the directorial debut of screenwriter Hossein Amini (Drive; cowriter of Snow White and the Huntsman).
#3 TRUE BLOOD STAR STEPHEN MOYER TIES THE DEVIL’S KNOT
British actor Stephen Moyer (True Blood) is the latest to join the cast of Devil’s Knot, the dramatic retelling of the case of the West Memphis Three. Atom Egoyan (Chloe, The Sweet Hereafter) is directing, and some of the actors already cast include Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Alessandro Nivola and Kevin Durand.
#4 THE AVENGERS TALE CONTINUES IN ITEM 47
Normally, this column only covers full length feature films, but this is a really, really slow news week because of Independence Day being on a Wednesday. And so, this news story breaks two of those rules, by being about a short film that’s going direct-to-video. Item 47 isn’t, however, just any short film, as it’s also a de facto sequel to the most successful film of the year, The Avengers. Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield) and Jesse Bradford (Hackers) will play a couple that gets their hands on one of the alien Chitauri guns which they use for a crime spree, leading to two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (Maximiliano Herndandez and Titus Welliver from LOST) going after them to get the weapon out of their hands. Item 47 will be included on the DVD and Blu Ray releases of The Avengers, which comes to stores and homes near you on September 25, 2012.
#5 WILL CHUCK PALAHNIUK’S SNUFF GETS THE MOST BANG OUT OF ITS GANG?
Author Chuck Palahniuk’s novels have thus far been turned into two movies, one of which makes many people’s lists of favorite movies (Fight Club), while the other one was Choke. Palahniuk’s 2008 novel Snuff was told from the perspective of three of the men (#72, #137 and #600) participating in a 600 man gang bang orgy with an aging female porn star. And now, Snuff is on its way to becoming an R rated “story of love and redemption” courtesy of director Fabien Martorell (Tromatized: Meet Lloyd Kaufman). Curiously, the “official” announcement came this week, but as far back as early 2011, Martorell was talking about casting Snuff. Back then, Martorell claimed that Daryl Hannah (probably as the porn star), Thora Birch (probably as her assistant), and Tom Sizemore had joined the cast. It’s unknown if any of those actors are still involved with Snuff, 17 months later.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER STEPHEN KING ADAPTATION: THE TEN O’CLOCK PEOPLE
Stephen King has written hundreds of novels, novellas and short stories, and dozens of movies have been based upon them since the 1970s. The latest entry in the massive line of Stephen King adaptations will be based upon The Ten O’Clock People, one of the stories in the 1993 collection Nightmares and Dreamscapes. Justin Long (Live Free or Die Hard, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) is now in talks to star as a Boston man whose efforts to quit smoking lead him to discover that monsters called “Batmen” are controlling the world disguised as humans in varying levels of power. Basically, it’s a lot like John Carpenter’s They Live, but without the glasses, Rowdy Roddy Piper, or chewing gum shortages. The Ten O’Clock People will be directed by Tom Holland, an old hand at horror who has two genuine 1980s classics to his credit (Fright Night and Child’s Play), as well as two other Stephen King adaptations (Thinner and the Langoliers mini-series). However, none of his films’ RT Tomatometer scores besides Child’s Play and Fright Night (and none since 1988) are “Fresh,” and so that’s why The Ten O’Clock People is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas.
#3 MORE WHITE HOUSE ATTACK CASTING NEWS: DYLAN MCDERMOTT IN OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN
This is another story one can credit to an extremely slow news week. Dylan McDermott has joined the cast as a Secret Service agent in Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen. That’s the one with Gerard Butler, Angela Bassett, and Aaron Eckhart (as President), and Antoine Fuqua directing. The other White House attack movie is White House Down, and that’s the one with Channing Tatum, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx as POTUS, and Roland Emmerich directing.
#2 BRITISH TV-TURNED-MOVIE THE INBETWEENERS TO GET AMERICANIZED
The Inbetweeners is the title of a British sitcom TV show that got turned into a movie which subsequently became the top grossing British comedy of all time. And so, Paramount Pictures has started development on an American version of The Inbetweeners, although the new version may not keep that title. The original movie was about four nerdy teenage boys who go on vacation in Greece, but the new version may not keep that destination, either. So, what Paramount has is a movie about four horny teenage boys on vacation trying to get laid. Paramount’s development of this movie comes just as MTV is preparing to debut an Americanized version of the TV show as well, starting on August 20, 2012. The cast of the MTV show will probably also star in this movie version, but that doesn’t hasn’t officially been confirmed yet. It just seems the most obvious answer.
#1 FILE UNDER SEQUELS WAY PAST THEIR EXPIRATION DATE: HOCUS POCUS 2
First off, it should be noted that this story hasn’t officially been confirmed by anyone yet, and appears to have started when someone added the title to this Wikipedia page. It is however, a really, really, slow news week (it’s been said earlier, but really can’t be said enough), so here we go: Disney may or may not be developing a sequel to the 1993 fantasy comedy Hocus Pocus, starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker, and a very young Vinessa Shaw. If this story is true, the title would be Hocus Pocus 2: Rise of the Elderwitch. But it might not be. Regardless, Hocus Pocus was quite over the top (to adult eyes, anyway; people who saw it as kids might remember it differently), and it’s getting close to being 20 years old now. All of that would be enough to make this the Most Rotten Idea of the week, but the RT Tomatometer agrees with me, too.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.