The week after Memorial Day Monday is traditionally a little slow for movie development news, and 2014 was not much different. Our biggest story (Marvel’s Ant-Man and its lack of a director) actually broke out late last week, for example. Other movies addressed down below include Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, biopics for athletes Joe Namath and Jesse Owens, and remakes of Cliffhanger and Stargate.
This Week’s Top Story
MARVEL LOSES ANT-MAN DIRECTOR EDGAR WRIGHT
Last week, just as the Weekly Ketchup went online before the start of Memorial Day weekend, a pretty big story broke. The news may have not been the Top Story in a week like that one, but the news cycle was much slower following the three day weekend. The wait may have been worth it, because we now have more actual news to report. The first thing that one should really know about the news that director Edgar Wright departed Marvel’s Ant-Man is that his involvement dates all the way back to 2006, predating by two years the release of Iron Man, the movie without which there wouldn’t even be “Marvel Cinematic Universe” (financially, at least). The planned Ant-Man release date of July 17, 2015 comes, therefore, almost a decade after Wright’s work began. The reason for the Marvel/Wright split are credited (or blamed, rather) on a dispute over a new script draft (by someone other than Wright and partner Joe Cornish) based on Marvel’s studio notes. Online reactions varied greatly over the weekend, although the general consensus seemed to sway more in favor of Wright. As of this writing, Marvel is still committed to producing the film in time for that release date, and talks are underway with at least three different comedy directors. The field of candidates includes Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, 30 Minutes or Less), Adam McKay (of the two Anchorman movies, and Step Brothers), and Rawson Marshall Thurber (We’re the Millers, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story). Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas are still attached to star in Ant-Man (presuming filming still starts in June as planned), and other cast members previously announced include Evangeline Lilly, Matt Gerald, Corey Stoll, and Patrick Wilson. We don’t know yet the identity of the mystery screenwriter who Marvel hired to work on Ant-Man.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 QUENTIN TARANTINO’S THE HATEFUL EIGHT: NOT SHELVED AFTER ALL?
Back in January, director Quentin Tarantino announced that he was giving up on a new western called The Hateful Eight, after the script was leaked online. However, after a public script reading last month, Tarantino is now reportedly working on a new draft for the cast that participated in that event, with the filming reportedly starting in Wyoming in November of 2014. If they all sign, that cast would consist of: Samuel L. Jackson, Zoe Bell, Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, James Remar, Kurt Russell, and Amber Tamblyn. Christoph Waltz, who had originally been announced to be reuniting with Tarantino after Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, however, is no longer listed. While in Cannes recently, Quentin Tarantino also mentioned he might “revisit” Django Unchained with a four hour mini-series version, adding in 90 minutes of scenes that haven’t yet been seen before.
#2 WALK THE LINE DIRECTOR REVIVES PLANS FOR A JOE NAMATH BIOPIC
Director James Mangold (The Wolverine, 3:10 to Yuma), who also directed the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, appears to really want to direct a biopic about 1970s NFL quarterback Joe Namath. James Mangold had previously been attached to a Joe Namath biopic at Universal, in which Jake Gyllenhaal would have starred, but that project was eventually put into turnaround. Now, at a completely different studio (Fox 2000), Mangold is once again in talks to direct. This time, the script is being written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, who previously worked with Mangold on 3:10 to Yuma.
#3 ANTHONY MACKIE JOINS RACE FOR A JESSE OWENS BIOPIC
Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, much to Adolf Hitler’s embarrassment, remains one of those seemingly obvious biopic subjects who hasn’t yet received a feature film version. (A TV biopic called The Jesse Owens Story was produced in 1984, and won an Emmy Award.) This is something that various parties are trying to correct, including Walt Disney Pictures (with a script by David Seidler of The King’s Speech), and Focus Features and director Stephen Hopkins. This week, Anthony Mackie, who played Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, also threw his hat in the ring, as both star and producer. For his project, Anthony Mackie is teaming up with screenwriter Jamie Linden (Dear John, We Are Marshall), as a producer, with screenwriter George Olson working on a script (there was also a “George Olson” character in We Are Marshall, but it appears to have been a coincidence).
#4 MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING SEQUEL PROPOSED
Back in 2002, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a little romantic comedy made for just $5 million, went on to become one of the most successful independent films of all time, with a global box office of over $368 million. That success led to a few different attempts at recapturing the flame (like a CBS TV sitcom, and other movies for that film’s star Nia Vardalos), but none of them really worked out. Now, Nia Vardalos has written a script for a sequel which will again be produced by Playtone, the production company of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. Vardalos and John Corbett will both reprise their characters, who have now been married for 10+ years, and the story will revolve around a new wedding that again brings together their two families. The sequel is currently looking for a director. The first movie currently holds a Certified Fresh Tomatometer score of 76%.
#5 THIS WEEK IN JOSH BROLIN: SICARIO AND THE VOICE OF THANOS
Just as the column was being published this afternoon, Josh Brolin’s name showed up in two very different stories. First up, Brolin is now in talks to join the cast (along with Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro) of the thriller Sicario, to be directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners). Sicario is about a Tucson police officer who travels to Mexico with two mercenaries to track down an infamous drug lord (Benicio del Toro). That Benicio del Toro is in that movie too is of particular interest because of the other movie in question (which we know BDT is in). At one time thought to possibly be voiced by Vin Diesel (in addition to Groot), we now know that it is Josh Brolin who will be voicing the cosmic villain Thanos in both Guardians of the Galaxy and the eventual Avengers 3 (whatever it ends up being titled). The story started as a rumor, but quickly spread across the Internet as all but confirmed, within the course of about an hour late this Friday afternoon. That’s the second time in two Fridays that Marvel has done that to the Internet.
#6 BOB AND BOB: ROBERTS DE NIRO AND PATTINSON TEAM UP IN IDOL’S EYE
Robert De Niro and Robert Pattinson are confirmed to be costarring together in a heist thriller called Idol’s Eye. Not much else is known about the premise at this point. Idol’s Eye will be directed by French director Olivier Assayas (Something in the Air, Clouds of Sils Maria), with filming scheduled to start in October at locations in Chicago and Toronto.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 JOHNNY DEPP AND THE SECRET LIFE OF HOUDINI
Even more so than Jesse Owens, another famous figure that Hollywood has long been trying to make a modern movie about has been illusionist-turned-supernatural-debunker Harry Houdini. The star who may finally have landed the role is Johnny Depp, who is now in talks with Lionsgate to star in an adaptation of a book called The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero, by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. Described as being “in the vein of Indiana Jones,” The Secret Life of Houdini will focus more on Houdini’s later career as “an investigator of the world of the occult.” The Secret Life of Houdini will be directed by Dean Parisot, whose RT Tomatometer is mostly Rotten (Home Fries, Fun with Dick and Jane, Red 2), except for Galaxy Quest. Johnny Depp is currently filming the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass, which he will then follow with the Alice in Wonderland sequel Through the Looking Glass. After that, Depp is expected to either film The Secret Life of Houdini, or… the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean for Walt Disney Pictures. And speaking of Through the Looking Glass, this week we learned that Rhys Ifans has replaced the previously announced Mark Rylance as “Zanik Hightopp,” the Mad Hatter’s father. Walt Disney Pictures has scheduled Through the Looking Glass for May 27, 2016.
#2 ROLAND EMMERICH AND DEAN DEVLIN RETURNING FOR A WHOLE NEW STARGATE TRILOGY
Possibly inspired by the post-credits scene at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past, MGM and Warner Bros announced renewed plans this week for a reboot of the hit 1994 science fiction adventure Stargate. That movie was directed by Roland Emmerich, and produced by Dean Devlin, both of whom will return for the new Stargate, which is being planned as the start of a new trilogy of films. One big difference that is true in 2014, that wasn’t true (and couldn’t have been foreseen) in 1994, is that we now have three different Stargate spinoff series, accounting for hundreds of hours of televison. For example, one character who wasn’t in the original Stargate was the Jaffa warrior Teal’c. One might imagine that such later creations might be retconned back into the original movie now, in this new reboot. Another Emmerich/Devlin project that is also getting a fresh coat of paint is the Independence Day sequel, which is now being rewritten, post-Will-Smith-departure. The two departures actually happened months apart, but this week, Will Smith also dropped out of the science fiction film Brilliance.
#1 THE CLIFFHANGER REMAKE/REBOOT/RETREAD/RECLIMB IS STILL AFOOT
At least anecdotally, it seems like Hollywood’s current love affair with reboots and remakes is not really paying off that well. But… producers are still moving with such plans, anyway. One such reboot/remake is Cliffhanger, the original film of which starred Sylvester Stallone in 1993 as a retired mountain climber extraordinaire who is forced to help recover stolen cash from a plane crash high in the mountains. Screenwriter Joe Gazzam, who doesn’t yet have any produced credits, has been hired to work on rebooting Cliffhanger.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.