This Week’s Ketchup includes casting news for Green Lantern and The First Avenger: Captain America, as well as new roles for Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey, Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Woody Harrelson and Chloe Moretz (Hit Girl from Kick-Ass).
There was a ton of casting news for The First Avenger: Captain America, and yet, not a single one of these stories is about an actual deal (though Hugo Weaving did sign on last week to play the Red Skull). First, Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions) was added to the list of actors up to play Steve Rogers, and he is particularly of interest because at age 35, he is the oldest actor in the running (by several years). Then, Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) was also added to the mix, with the word also being that Tatum is not just in the running, but the top contender. Yet another name that emerged this week is Sebastian Stan, from Gossip Girl, but he shouldn’t be confused with Chace Crawford, another double initialed youth from that show (who is now out of contention for the Captain America job). However, even as three new names are added to the list, two names were dropped this week, as Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) and Wilson Bethel (The Young and the Restless) are now out. That brings the list of possible Captain Americas to five: Phillippe, Tatum, Stan, Mike Vogel (Cloverfield) and Chris Evans (Fantastic Four). However, there is a lot of news about Chris Evans that makes him seem unlikely, as last week, he signed on for an Anna Faris comedy, and this week, Evans signed on for the lead role in a health care legal drama called Puncture. With The First Avenger: Captain America scheduled to begin filming next month, these deals seem to indicate that Chris Evans would be unavailable. Someone else you can rule out from appearing in the movie is Edward Norton, who this week said he will not be making any Bruce Banner cameos in Thor or The First Avenger: Captain America. There was also casting news this week for the film’s female lead, who will be the character of Betsy Ross (not to be confused with the creator of the American flag or Betty Ross, the Hulk’s girlfriend). Betsy Ross went on to become a sidekick to Captain America under the name of Golden Girl, but in the 60 years since the Golden Age of comics ended, Golden Girl has become an extremely obscure character. So, it’s a little ironic that such an unknown character will probably have an action figure in 2011, while much more popular characters have never appeared in a movie at all. The first actress mentioned as being in talks to play Golden Girl was Keira Knightley, and she was soon joined by Alice Eve (She’s Out of My League) and Emily Blunt (The Wolfman, The Young Victoria). Whoever ends up starring in it, The First Avenger: Captain America is scheduled to be released by Paramount on July 22, 2011.
When your new movie makes over $150 million in its first two weekends, it’s time to get your agent busy making deals on dream projects. For Tim Burton, that appears to have been the opportunity to direct a stop-motion animated 3D adaptation of Charles Addams’ original comic strip characters The Addams Family. Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Pugsley, Wednesday and Cousin It are probably best known for starring in a 1960s TV show and two live action movies directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. However, for this stop-motion movie, Tim Burton will be drawing direct inspiration for the artistic style from Charles Addams’ original artwork. Something that’s particularly interesting about this detail is that, originally, Addams never gave any of the characters names, and only came up with them when the 1964 TV show was in development. Burton’s Addams Family project is being produced by Illumination Entertainment, the Universal-based company that is also producing this summer’s Despicable Me and next year’s I Hop, the Easter Bunny movie starring Russell Brand. Other Illusion projects in development include Ricky Gervais’ Flanimals, Where’s Waldo? and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. There’s no writer yet for The Addams Family, and Tim Burton is expected to be closely involved in the visual design of the movie and the characters.
The casting for Green Lantern continued this week with the news that Temuera Morrison will play Abin Sur. Abin Sur is the bald red-skinned alien who recruits Hal Jordan to replace him as the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 when he dies. Temuera Morrison is probably best known for playing Jango Fett in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and also for starring in 1994’s Once Were Warriors. Morrison isn’t the only Maori New Zealander cast, however, as actor/director Taika Waititi will also be costarring as Hal Jordan’s best friend, engineer Thomas Kalmaku (AKA Pieface in the un-PC Silver Age comics). Morrison and Waititi join a cast that includes Ryan Reynolds (Hal Jordan), Mark Strong (Sinestro), Peter Sarsgaard (Hector Hammond), Blake Lively (Carol Ferris) and Tim Robbins. Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Legend of Zorro) started filming Green Lantern in 3D this week in New Orleans, and the film will be released on June 17, 2011.
Robert Downey, Jr. is in talks to star in Gravity, a movie in which Angelina Jolie was first reported to star, before she dropped out of the project a week later. At the time, Gravity was described as being mostly about Jolie’s character, but the Downey news clarifies the story a bit to say that there are actually two central characters. Downey would play the leader of a remote space station who is stranded with a female coworker when a satellite explodes and kills the rest of their team. Gravity will be filmed in 3D by director Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien) from a script he wrote with his son Jonas. If Downey signs on, he will film Gravity in London this summer before moving on to also film Sherlock Holmes 2 there this fall.
Bruce Willis has long been attached to star in the video game adaptation Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, but there was still a question as to who would play Lynch. In the game, Lynch is portrayed as a white guy with long hair and a beard, but the film version will be played by Jamie Foxx. Kane & Lynch is the story of two inmates who team up when Kane’s daughter is kidnapped as leverage to force them to recover a doomsday device (in the game, it’s just stolen money they’re after). Kane & Lynch is a Lionsgate production that will mark the directorial debut of Simon Crane, a stunt coordinator and second unit director whose recent work includes Jumper, Hancock, Stardust and this summer’s Salt. The news of Jamie Foxx’s casting came from a Tweet by screenwriter Kyle Ward, for whom Kane & Lynch will be his feature debut (he’s also writing another video game adaptation, Hitman 2). Filming of Kane & Lynch is scheduled to start in August.
Everyone was surprised when Martin Scorsese announced plans to direct an adaptation of a kids book called The Invention of Hugo Cabret. What’s even more surprising is that the movie is actually casting up, which makes it stand out considerably from all of the other movie projects Scorsese is attached to that either never get made or take a decade to realize. The first wave of Hugo Cabret casting this week featured two Brits, and they were then followed by two kids. Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Bruno) will play a Paris train station inspector and Sir Ben Kingsley will play filmmaker Georges Melies. Melies is probably most famous for the 1902 silent film La Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon), which was way, way, way ahead of its time in the realm of visual special effects. Georges Melies was also a collector of wind up dolls called automata, and served as an inspiration to novelist Brian Selznick when he wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret (which is why he’s a character in the novel and movie). Starring as 12-year-old orphan Hugo Cabret will be Asa Butterfield, who starred in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and recently wrapped up filming of Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang. Chloe Moretz, the young star of Kick-Ass (as well as the vampire in the upcoming American remake of Let the Right One In), has also signed on to play a character named Isabelle. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is Martin Scorsese’s second collaboration with screenwriter John Logan (The Aviator), who also cowrote Gladiator, Any Given Sunday and The Last Samurai. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is now a Sony project after being put in turnaround by Warner Bros, and filming is scheduled to start in May, 2010 in London and Paris.
Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) recently wrapped up filming The Social Network, the movie about the founding of Facebook. Searching for his next project, Fincher has signed on with Columbia Pictures to direct Pawn Sacrifice, a biopic about Bobby Fischer, the chess genius who repeatedly made international news in the 1960s and 1970s for his winning record, including defeats against Soviet players considered unbeatable. Fischer eventually retired from playing chess, and in the years before his death in 2008, her became infamous for his anti-semitic beliefs and statements. Pawn Sacrifice was written by Steven Knight, screenwriter of Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises, who is also adapting Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol. Pawn Sacrifice will focus on Fischer’s early life and climax with his 1972 match against Soviet player Boris Spassky, so it may not spend a lot of time on Fischer’s later years. David Fincher is also attached to an English language remake of the 2009 Swedish drama The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but there is no deal in place for the film with any production company.
A new production company called Bedrock Studios has announced its first projects, the first of which will be a CGI animated comedy called Turkeys. Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson will star in Turkeys as two of the titular birds who find a time machine and travel back in time for the first Thanksgiving to prevent the Pilgrims from ever making turkey dinners a holiday tradition. Luke Wilson will also be voicing a character. Turkeys will be directed by Ash Brannon (codirector of Surf’s Up, Toy Story 2) from a script by John J. Strauss (cowriter of The Santa Clause 2, The Lizzie McGuire Movie) and David I. Stern, the writer of the direct-to-video release Open Season 2. Peter Farrelly is executive producing Turkeys, and the movie is aiming for a 2011 release. Three other movies on Bedrock Studios’ slate are Dinosaur Bob (about a dinosaur family), Rats of NIMH and A Wrinkle in Time. Rats of NIMH is an adaptation of Robert C. O’Brien’s Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, which was previously adapted as the 1982 film The Secret of NIMH. A Wrinkle in Time is an adaptation of a young adult science fiction novel by Madeleine L’Engle, and the first of four novels about the same characters who have interdimensional adventures. A Wrinkle in Time also made the news this week when Bedrock hired screenwriter Jeff Stockwell (cowriter of Bridge to Terabithia, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys), who is also working on a live-action adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service.
Escape from New York is being remade, The Thing is getting a prequel, and there’s a whole TV empire based around Stargate. The movie career of Kurt Russell is one that Hollywood appears to love revisiting. And now, another Kurt Russell movie is getting remade. Jennifer Lopez is in talks with Columbia Pictures to star in a remake of Overboard, the 1987 romantic comedy starring Kurt Russell and his domestic partner Goldie Hawn. Overboard was the story of a spoiled rich lady who falls off her yacht, contracts amnesia and is then conned by a local guy into believing that she is his wife so that he can have someone take care of his house and his four sons. The Overboard remake script has apparently already been through some rewrites, with the credited writers including Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (cowriters of Accepted, New York Minute) and Leslie Dixon (Mrs. Doubtfire), who also wrote the original 1987 movie. On April 23, Jennifer Lopez will star in The Back-Up Plan, her first movie since 2006’s El Cantante. This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because it’s yet another remake, although the fact that Overboard is not exactly considered a classic by many people (50% RT Score) might mean it’s one of those cases where the remake has a chance to be a better movie. But then again, the latest writers to tackle it cowrote New York Minute.
Warner Bros executive Alan Horn announced at ShoWest this week that the studio has plans for a fifth movie in the Final Destination horror franchise. Last August, the title of The Final Destination seemed to suggest that it was the last film. However, the movie also made $150 million worldwide, and so that is apparently enough of a reason for Warner Bros to find a way to keep making Final Destination movies. There are no other details currently known about who will write or direct the fifth film. As for what it will be about, it’s not too hard to guess that it will probably be about a bunch of young people who narrowly avoid death but then start getting killed off in other convoluted ways. This is this week’s #1 Rotten Idea because it’s a reminder that though fans collectively complain about remake fever, sequelitis will continue as long as studios see money to be made. It’s different when a franchise like Harry Potter has books with actual stories to be told. With horror franchises like Final Destination and Saw, however, entire movies are written and produced around the same old gimmick, and then repeated ad nauseum until they stop making money (and sometimes, not even then). Also, the RT score for The Final Destination was a fairly dismal 27%. What are the chances Final Destination 5 will turn out any better?