This week’s Ketchup features a surprising low dosage of remakes (just one newly announced one), as a week that was shortened by Labor Day sees an emphasis more on casting news for existing projects than newly announced movies. Among the names in all the casting news are Mandy Moore, Nicolas Cage, Halle Berry and… Barry Manilow.
Walt Disney Pictures has announced that the fourth movie in their lucrative Johnny Depp franchise will be titled Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and the studio is scheduling it for a summer, 2011 release date. The details of the story aren’t yet known, but it is expected to focus more on the Jack Sparrow character, with Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom not expected to return, in what is expected to also start a second trilogy of movies. On Stranger Tides will be directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha) from a script by the writing team of Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who also wrote the first three movies.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Quentin “Rampage” Jackson has signed to take over the role of B.A. Baracus in the movie version of The A-Team. With Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper already on board as Hannibal Smith and Faceman Peck, this leaves just the role of Howling Mad Murdock to be officially confirmed. The latest rumor this week the role has been offered to Sharlto Copley, one of the stars of District 9. Filming is scheduled to start in Vancouver later this fall, as Fox hopes to get The A-Team in theaters by June 11, 2010.
Dimension Films has hired screenwriter Ehren Kruger (Reindeer Games, The Brothers Grimm) to work on a new movie based upon the Stephen King short story that inspired a 1984 horror film and led to six more sequels. Children of the Corn was the story of a married couple that discovers a strange small town in Nebraska where there are no adults, and all of the children worship a sort of corn god. Calling the original movie a “missed opportunity,” Dimension’s Bob Weinstein said, “if you read the short story, it’s got such a strong feeling to it and there’s this religious overtone to it as well.” Perhaps Weinstein has seen different Children of the Corn movies than I have, but it seems like the religious overtones are quite common in them. Or maybe he means his movie will take the corn cult seriously, sort of like a Passion of the Christ for the much-overlooked grain worship community.
Jeff Bridges is in talks with Paramount Pictures to star in the Coen Brothers’ remake of 1969’s True Grit. Bridges would be starring as as U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn, the role that won John Wayne an Oscar, and this would be Bridges’ first project with the Coen Brothers since The Big Lebowski. True Grit is the story of a 14 year old girl who teams up with two lawmen to track down the outlaw who killed her father. The Coen Brothers plan that their version will more closely follow the story of the original Charles Portis novel. That means the story will focus more on the young girl, as opposed to the 1969 film that focused more on Wayne’s character. There’s no production start date for True Grit yet, but it is expected to be the Coen Brothers’ next film.
Rainn Wilson (NBC’s The Office), Liv Tyler and Ellen Page have signed to star in Super, an independent comedy that is the latest to take on the superhero genre. The indie take on superheroes follows movies like Mystery Men, Superhero Movie, an upcoming movie called Defendor (starring Woody Harrelson) and The Specials, a 2000 movie from the same writer as Super. That writer is James Gunn, who will also be directing, making this his second movie as director after 2006’s Slither. Wilson will be starring as a guy who takes on the superhero alter ego of the Crimson Bolt after watching his wife (Tyler) fall under the spell of a charming drug dealer. The Crimson Bolt doesn’t have any super powers, but he is handy with a wrench (“if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball”). Filming of Super is scheduled to start in December.
The Warner Bros project called Super Max, which stars Green Arrow as a wrongly convicted superhero in a prison full of DC Comics super villains now has direct competition from a movie that not only has a somewhat similar concept, but a similar title as well. Supermax is a Columbia Pictures project set in a special prison for supernatural beings, as a guard must team up with an inmate as a riot ensues. This Supermax was written by makeup artist Christopher Allen Nelson and screenwriter Mitch Rouse (cowriter of Strangers with Candy, Without a Paddle). Filming is scheduled to start in early 2010, which means that this movie will probably beat WB’s Green Arrow script to production, potentially either causing it to get shelved, or at least get a title change.
After being bumped from plans to direct the baseball movie Moneyball, director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven) has found another project. With a story Variety compared to La Femme Nikita and Kill Bill, Knockout is the story of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is given a chance to use her skills for constructive purposes. Knockout will star Gina Carano, a mixed martial arts circuit fighter who will be making her big screen debut. Knockout also marks the third time that Soderbergh will be collaborating with screenwriter Lem Dobbs, who also wrote The Limey and Kafka. Filming is expected to start in late January, 2010 at locations in Ireland, Turkey and the USA.
Mandy Moore has signed on for the lead voice role in Walt Disney Pictures’ 3D CGI animated movie Rapunzel, based upon the classic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. In Disney’s version of the story, a teenage Rapunzel (with 70 foot long hair) escapes from the castle where she’s been imprisoned since infancy. She’s aided by a bandit (to be voiced by Zachary Levi, star of NBC’s Chuck) as they are both chased by Rapunzel’s captor. Now scheduled for late 2010, Rapunzel is a project Disney has been trying to make for several years, receiving new life in 2006 when Pixar’s John Lasseter came aboard Disney, throwing out the old ideas for this new one. Rapunzel will be codirected by Byron Howard (codirector of Bolt) and Nathan Greno (Disney’s direct-to-DVD animated movie Super Rhino). Rapunzel will also be a musical, with Alan Menken (Aladdin, Enchanted) working on the songs.
Halle Berry is in talks to star in an independent action thriller called Dark Tide, which will be directed by Clark Johnson (S.W.A.T., The Sentinel). Although the exact premise of the movie hasn’t been revealed yet, Halle Berry will be starring as a diving instructor who returns to the deep following a near-fatal encounter with a great white shark. This has nothing to do with the movie, really, but in the Variety article, the words “great white” are capitalized and linked to an entry for the 1980s rock band Great White. Filming is scheduled to start on Dark Tide in South Africa later this year.
Nicolas Cage has signed on to star in an independent thriller called The Hungry Rabbit Jumps, taking over the role that was first announced in 2008 as going to the much younger Tobey Maguire (who will still be producing). The Hungry Rabbit Jumps is the story of a man whose wife is the victim of a brutal crime, leading to him becoming entangled in an underground vigilante organization. The film will be directed by Roger Donaldson (Cocktail, Dante’s Peak) from a script by Robert Tannen (2006’s Even Money). Filming of this revenge thriller will start in January, 2010 in New Orleans, with Cage then moving on to the April, 2010 filming of the other revenge thriller he signed on for last week, Drive Angry (which will be filmed in 3-D.
The production companies of Tom Hanks and R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe are teaming up to develop a romantic comedy that will “exploit” the songs of singer/songwriter Barry Manilow. Although for someone who’s being exploited, Manilow has “pledged his support” to the project. The project, which is being compared to Love Actually, will revolve around a group of Barry Manilow fans who are all in Las Vegas for a weekend to see him headline at the Mandalay Bay. His music will be heard throughout the film, and Manilow will also perform a song or two in the movie. The movie will first go to Universal, where Hanks’ Playtone has a first look deal.