This week’s Ketchup includes news about new (and potential new) roles for Elizabeth Banks, Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, Aaron Paul (of Breaking Bad), and Brad Pitt. Also included in the ten story mix are the video game adaptation Need for Speed, a reboot of the Left Behind franchise, another Tyler Perry Alex Cross movie, a remake of Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and two movies based on newspaper comic strips (Heathcliff and The Family Circus).
This Week’s Top Story
JUSTICE LEAGUE TO TAKE ON THE AVENGERS 2 IN THE SUMMER OF 2015
This week, Warner Bros won a legal victory against the family of Superman cocreator Joel Shuster. This news led to the studio announcing plans to move ahead with a live action Justice League movie for the summer of 2015. Most are interpreting this is as a standoff with Marvel Studios, which has already announced a release date of May 1st, 2015 for The Avengers 2. Marvel also announced this week a release date of November 6, 2015 for Ant-Man, making it likely to be the first confirmed title as part of Marvel’s Phase 3, assuming that Phase 2 ends with The Avengers 2. The horse race between The Avengers 2 and Justice League also gives writers and fans alike an opportunity to discuss every other difference between DC’s and Marvel’s big screen adaptations. Particularly obvious in this case is the way that Marvel developed their heroes and the Avengers over several films before releasing The Avengers. DC, on the other hand, has never really acknowledged the Justice League in its films, and indeed, the Batman of Justice League will probably be a complete reboot of the character following Christopher Nolan’s films. Instead, it appears that Warner Bros plans on using Justice League to help launch other superhero movies, with possibilities including The Flash, Wonder Woman, a Green Lantern reboot, and any other hero that might appear in Justice League. Of course, there’s also Man of Steel, the Superman reboot, coming out next summer.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 TOM CRUISE TO TIME TRAVEL IN OUR NAME IS ADAM
Paramount Pictures is very much in the Tom Cruise business. In addition to the ongoing Mission: Impossible franchise, there’s also the upcoming Jack Reacher, and the continuing possiblity of a Top Gun 2. Then, this week, Cruise attached himself to a time travel science fiction script called Our Name is Adam written by as-yet-unproduced relative newcomer T.S. Nowlin. There’s no firm details about Our Name is Adam just yet, except that it’s about a man who travels back in time to visit his younger self, and it’s being compared to Back to the Future (because almost no one ever compares their project to movies that weren’t huge successes). Anyway, not long after that news broke out, it was revealed that Paramount Pictures is now in negotiations to acquire that project, which, like this article stated, is another opportunity for Paramount Pictures to continue their Tom Cruise partnership. At other studios, Cruise is also attached to the reboot of Van Helsing for Universal Pictures, and the remake of The Magnificent Seven for MGM.
#2 BRAD PITT AND DAVID FINCHER MAY REUNITE A FOURTH TIME FOR 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA
As part of their deal with David Fincher to direct the remake of their adaptation of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Walt Disney Pictures has put a three month hold on the director while they figure out if they’re ready for a greenlight. To help the process along, David Fincher is looking for his star, and it looks like his first pick is Brad Pitt, who has worked with Fincher three times previous (Seven, Fight Club, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). If Brad Pitt signs on, he would be playing sailor Ned Land, the same role played by Kirk Douglas in Disney’s 1954 live action adaptation. As for what Disney has to consider, balancing out the allure of Brad Pitt as the star, there is the ambitious technical side, which Fincher has said will include filming in 3D and a production schedule that is about 70% CGI special effects. This is obviously not the first time Disney has had to tussle with an expensive period piece action movie, following such recent examples as John Carter and the upcoming reboot of The Lone Ranger. As for Captain Nemo himself, this writer would like to humbly suggest that Disney look no farther than their subsidiary ABC, the TV show LOST, and British-Indian actor Naveen Andrews. He would certainly make more sense than James Mason.
#3 CASTING THE GUY FROM BREAKING BAD HAS TO BE SOME SORT OF IRONY FOR A MOVIE CALLED NEED FOR SPEED
A lot of video game adaptation movies based on popular franchises get announced, and then nothing ever seems to happen with them (see: World of Warcraft, Metal Gear Solid, HALO, etc.). This story is quite the opposite, because it wasn’t that long ago that we first heard about Electronic Arts licensing out the film rights to the racing series Need for Speed to DreamWorks, and already, that movie has a star. Aaron Paul, who’s won two Emmy Awards for his role as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad, has been cast as one of the two leads in Need for Speed. The script by screenwriter John Gatins and his brother George Gatins isn’t based on any one game in particular, but just tries to capture the game in general. So, basically, it just has to be a movie about cars going fast, and it fits those requirements. John Gatins’ previous credits include cowriting Coach Carter and Real Steel, and he also wrote the upcoming Robert Zemeckis/Denzel Washington drama Flight. Need for Speed will mark the second feature film for director Scott Waugh, who made his debut earlier in 2012 with Act of Valor. DreamWorks is aiming to get Need for Speed in production in early 2013 in time for a release date of February 7, 2014. This story is a “fresh development” mostly because it’s all about Aaron Paul, and how his career might take off into movies, post-Breaking Bad.
#4 SHAILENE WOODLEY LANDS THE LEAD IN THE HUNGER GAMES-ISH YA NOVEL ADAPTATION DIVERGENT
Just as Twilight led to several other YA series about teen girls, vampires, and supernatural creatures, The Hunger Games helped inspire a new wave of YA novels set in futuristic dystopian societies. One of those books (arguably) was Divergent by Veronica Roth, which is about a future divided into five different concepts (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite), and all 16-year-olds have to choose one of those and get tested to see if they fit in with those societies. Summit/Lionsgate (the same studio behind The Hunger Games) is now moving forward with a film adaptation of Roth’s first book (which will eventually be a trilogy). It is 20 year old Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) who Summit/Lionsgate is now in talks with about playing the film’s lead role of Tris. It was just last week that Woodley also made news for being Sony’s top choice to be the new Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Filming is expected to start soon under the direction of Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Limitless, The Lucky Ones).
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#5 JIM CARREY MIGHT ROB ARMORED CARS IN THE COMEDY LOOMIS FARGO
Jim Carrey is in talks to star in the independent crime comedy Loomis Fargo, based on the true story of an armored car heist gone wrong. Loomis Fargo will be directed by Jared Hess, who got his career started with the Sundance hit Napoleon Dynamite, before directing Nacho Libre (“Rotten” score of 40% on the RT Tomatometer) and Gentlemen Broncos (19%). Loomis Fargo is also a script that has been passed around Hollywood a few times, with at least five different screenwriters currently credited. If Jim Carrey does indeed sign on, filming is expected to start in North Carolina in April, 2013.
#4 NICOLAS CAGE TO GO WHERE KIRK CAMERON HAS BRAVELY GONE BEFORE AS ONE OF THE LEFT BEHIND
I made this crack just last week, but here we go again… it’s a third week in a row now that a new Nicolas Cage movie has been announced that has landed in the Rotten Ideas section. Last week, it was the 10th Century China action movie Outcast, costarring Hayden Christensen. This week, Nicolas Cage is in talks to star in the reboot of the Left Behind film series, based on the post-Rapture books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The first set of movies was a trilogy with entries released in 2000, 2002, and 2005, and all three featured Growing Pains actor Kirk Cameron in the lead role (with Louis Gossett, Jr. in the last one, Left Behind: World at War). Even the producers of those movies admit that they were cheaply made, which is part of why they’re moving ahead (already) with a reboot. The budget for the Left Behind reboot is expected to be in the $15 million range, which is still not relatively expensive by Hollywood standards, but it’s more than the first three were made with (about $4 million for the first film). Anyway, the Left Behind series is about what happens to the world after the Rapture lifts millions of people up into Heaven. It’s quite a change of mood for Nicolas Cage from the Ghost Rider movies, let’s just say.
#3 THE PEANUTS AFTERMATH GIVES US HEATHCLIFF AND THE FAMILY CIRCUS NEWS… REALLY
Last week’s Top Story in the Weekly Ketchup was the news of a new Peanuts movie for 2015 from Blue Sky Studios, the Fox-based company behind the Ice Age franchise. This week, and maybe this is a coincidence (but probably not), there were two new stories about movies that are also based upon long-running newspaper comic strips. First up, there’s Heathcliff, that other orange tabby cat from the comic strips that isn’t Garfield (which Heathcliff actually predates by 5 years). Now, Heathcliff is getting his own chance at starring in a CGI/live action hybrid, thanks to Waterman Entertainment, the same folks that gave the world the Alvin and the Chipmunks films. Connecting the dots a bit here, both the Garfield movies and the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies were distributed by 20th Century Fox. Whatever they may have in common visually, Heathcliff and Garfield are themselves quite different, personality wise (although one could make the argument that the Bill Murray-voiced Garfield was more like Heathcliff than the comics that inspired him). In other comic strip movie news, there’s also The Family Circus to talk about. The film adaptation of the long running comic strip started by artist Bil Keane (the lack of an L there makes him a popular crossword answer, by the way) was first covered in this column back in 2010. Two years later, we have word that 20th Century Fox (see a pattern here?) and Walden Media have hired the screenwriting team of Nichole Millard and Kathryn Price (cowriters of The Game Plan, starring Dwayne Johnson) to try their hand at adapting the comic strip. What might make The Family Circus particularly difficult to adapt into a feature length film is the fact that every “strip” was actually just a single panel with a caption. It’s sort of like trying to adapt The Far Side.
#2 ELIZABETH BANKS TO EMBARK ON HER OWN PERSONAL WALK OF SHAME
History may look back on the career of Steven Brill much more favorably, but for now, he’s a director with five major motion pictures under his belt, and not a one of them scored higher on the RT Tomatometer than 25%. Specifically, we’re talking here about Heavyweights, Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, Without a Paddle, and Drillbit Taylor. Of course, none of those movies featured Elizabeth Banks. That distinction is about to change for Mr. Brill’s career, as Elizabeth Banks has been cast as the lead in Walk of Shame. The comedy will be about a woman who has to get across town after a night of debauchery in time for her first day at her dream job as a TV anchorperson. Brill will be directing from his own script, and filming is scheduled to start in January, 2013.
#1 TYLER PERRY’S ALEX CROSS TO GET DOUBLE CROSS… ED
The box office results obviously aren’t in yet (as of this writing) for Tyler Perry’s Alex Cross, based on the popular crime psychologist character (previously played by Morgan Freeman) created by author James Patterson. But, that didn’t stop Perry from starting negotiations for the rights to another book in the series, Double Cross. That was the 13th novel in the series, and you can read the premise over at Wikipedia. Whatever the fate for Alex Cross and its sequel, there was another Tyler Perry-relevant story this week. Perry has begun negotiations with Lionsgate (his longtime home studio) for Single Moms Club, which will be his next film as actor, producer, writer, and director (he only did one of those four jobs on Alex Cross). Single Moms Club will tell the story of how women from differing backgrounds all come together following some sort of incident at their children’s school. It’s not yet known if Perry will be himself playing one of the four women. As for why this is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas, here’s Tyler Perry’s RT page, which makes Steve Brill’s look… let’s say “Oscar worthy”, or better yet, “Fresh.”
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.