Every year in November, the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California, attracts movie producers and distributors from all over the world. And in the week before the AFM, the Internet gets deluged with dozens of movie development stories. This was that week, and so, this week’s Ketchup is here to filter through all the noise (and a few Halloween-themed announcements, too). Included in the mix are a few sequels, and three different celebrity biopics.
This Week’s Top Story
LONDON HAS FALLEN: HOW CAN THE SAME STUFF HAPPEN TO THE SAME PRESIDENT TWICE?
There are (many) movies that, when you see them, or even just hear about them, you figure, “they want to franchise that.” Then, there are movies that seem pretty clearly to be “onesies.” Of course, such guesses can eventually be proven very wrong (for example, John Carter in the first case, and The Godfather in the second). When our year of White House invasion movies started with Olympus Has Fallen, this writer thought it was probably just a one time story. This writer was wrong. Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett and Radha Mitchell will reprise their roles in the sequel London Has Fallen. This time, the President of the United States (Eckhart) travels to London for the funeral of a prime minister, where he teams up with the head of the Secret Service (Butler) and an MI6 agent (to be cast) to fight the latest wave of evil terrorists. The scenario is ridiculous (you think?) but it does raise the question of whether world leaders would decline visits from the POTUS, or welcome him, in the hopes that while he’s there, he can fight off their local villains. Filming of London Has Fallen will start in London on May 5, 2014. The screenwriters of Olympus Has Fallen (Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger) are currently working on London Has Fallen (and also worked together on the upcoming The Expendables 3). Worldwide, Olympus Has Fallen has earned a box office total of $160 million from a filming budget of $70 million, and a RT Tomatometer “Rotten” score of 48%.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 KICK-ASS STAR AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON CONFIRMED TO PLAY QUICKSILVER IN THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
It was nearly five months ago now that we first heard that Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson might be playing Quicksilver in the upcoming Marvel sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron. That casting, however, was never confirmed until this week. Quicksilver and his sister Scarlet Witch have been Avengers members (on and off) since the early 1960s, but they mostly remain fairly obscure to non comics fans. Their situation is also complicated by the fact that their father is Magneto, and 20th Century Fox is including Quicksilver in next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past (as one of several new movie mutants, including Bishop, Blink, Sunspot, and Warpath), to be played by Evan Peters. Quicksilver is a super speedster, and his sister has “hex spell powers,” but as part of their inclusion, the fact that they are mutants (or related to Magneto) will not be mentioned in the movie. Scarlet Witch will be played by Elizabeth Olsen when the movie opens in theaters on May 1, 2015.
#2 DIRECT-TO-VIDEO HORROR ANTHOLOGY TRICK ‘R TREAT TO GET DIRECT-TO-THEATERS SEQUEL
Usually, this goes the other way. Nothing about the release of the 2007 horror anthology Trick ‘r Treat really went the way it was supposed to. Produced by Bryan Singer, the movie was well received at a variety of horror-friendly festivals in 2007 and 2008, and then in 2009, Warner Premiere released Trick ‘r Treat direct-to-DVD in October, 2009. In the age of horror movies frequently opening to fairly significant box office numbers, the decision to have Trick ‘r Treat bypass theaters entirely boggled many minds. It’s not like it was an awful movie, with a “Fresh” RT Tomatometer score of 85%. Director Michael Dougherty never gave up, however, on the idea of Trick ‘r Treat 2, and this week, in the days leading up to Halloween, he announced that just such a movie is indeed in the works. The anthology sequel will tackle “classic movie monster” types not seen in the first movie. The movie still has a lot of steps to get through in the development process, but the goal is to release Trick ‘r Treat 2, in theaters, in October (which year it will be is the question).
#3 EMILE HIRSCH CAST TO PLAY SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE STAR JOHN BELUSHI
When people are trying to play “casting game” with real life figures like John Belushi (who progressively gained weight), there seems to be a tendency for people to want to pick a “fat guy.” That’s a little odd, because it’s not like gaining weight is really that difficult. There are also fun solutions like “fat suits” and belly pads. The producers of the long-in-development John Belushi biopic went this route this week with their announcement that Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) has been cast. This still-untitled film will be the second John Belushi biopic after Wired in 1989, which was surrounded by controversy, and featured Michael Chiklis (who eventually went on to play another comedian, Curly of the Three Stooges). The producers of this Belushi movie will include his widow Judy Belushi and his comedy and singing partner Dan Aykroyd (whose role is now being cast). Dan Aykroyd also made other biopic news this week by joining the James Brown movie Get On Up, which will be directed by Tate Taylor (The Help) and feature Chadwick Boseman as the Godfather of Soul. Don Cheadle is also looking to get into this burgeoning celebrity biopic resurgence, by making his directorial debut with Kill the Trumpet Player, which is described by some sources as being like a period “gangster movie” in which jazz musician Miles Davis is a character. Don Cheadle will also play Miles Davis, and Ewan McGregor and Zoe Saldana are reportedly in talks for supporting roles.
#4 CHANNING TATUM MAY STAR IN BAD ROMANCE FOR THE DIRECTOR OF 50/50 AND WARM BODIES
Channing Tatum is in talks to produce and star in a movie called Bad Romance. That title is pretty much all we know about the movie itself, so this is going to be a fairly slim story. But, you know, it involves Channing Tatum and a director with a good streak going right now, so the story still makes the cut in a busy week, regardless. That director (who will also write) is Jonathan Levine, whose last three films were The Wackness, 50/50, and Warm Bodies, the latter two of which were both Certified Fresh. Channing Tatum is also producing (and will star in) a biopic about 1970s daredevil stunt motorcyclist Evel Knievel.
#5 MICHAEL FASSBENDER TO STAR IN BRITISH GANGSTER MOVIE TRESPASS AGAINST US
Michael Fassbender continues to have an impressive career (let’s just ignore The Counselor). He’s currently in theaters with the critically acclaimed Twelve Years a Slave, and his half dozen movies awaiting release (or production) include the anticipated videogame adaptation Assassin’s Creed (which Fassbender is also producing), his second film as Magneto (X-Men: Days of Future Past), and a new version of William Shakespeare’s MacBeth. This week, Michael Fassbender added yet another project to the mix by starting negotiations to star in the British gangster movie Trespass Against Us, which will mark the feature debut of director Adam Smith, who does for 18th century economists what the director of Twelve Years a Slave did for, well, Steve McQueen. Trespass Against Us will span three generations of a British crime family, with Michael Fassbender basically being the “Michael” (Corleone) of the story: the son who wants get out of the family business. The British dance group The Chemical Brothers will be providing the film’s score.
#6 HOLLYWOOD’S MINING OF OLD TV SHOWS FINALLY GETS AROUND TO… IT TAKES A THIEF
As time continues on, old TV shows only get older, and if they didn’t get exposure through syndication or cable reruns, obscure titles are only likely to get more obscure. That is, of course, unless a Hollywood studio dusts off the property and turns it into the latest in the now long standing tradition of movies based on decades-old TV shows. The 1968-1970 ABC spy show It Takes a Thief definitely fits the bill. Robert Wagner starred in It Takes a Thief as a cat burglar (inspired by Cary Grant’s role in To Catch a Thief) who is recruited out of prison to come work for the “Secret Intelligence Agency.” And then he had 66 episodes of light-hearted adventure, with frequent guest appearances from old school Hollywood stars like Joesph Cotten, Bette Davis, and, for five episodes as his father, Fred Astaire. Universal Pictures is the studio starting development on a movie update for It Takes a Thief. It’s possible that this renewed interest in It Takes a Thief was inspired by the currently filming movie version of another 1960s spy TV show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in which Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer are starring for Warner Bros.
#7 NOOMI RAPACE TO COSTAR WITH HERSELF, HERSELF, HERSELF, HERSELF, HERSELF, AND HERSELF
There might be something in the water in Norway that inspires bizarre genre movies. In recent years, Norway has given us both Trollhunter and director Tommy Wirkola, whose career started with the Nazi zombie movie Dead Snow, and continued with Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. For the sake of calling this story “Fresh,” we’re going to just ignore the really “Rotten” score of 15% for that one, because this film’s premise gets points for “ambition.” Wirkola’s next film will be in the “dystopian sci fi” genre, and will be called What Happened to Monday? Swedish actress Noomi Rapace will play all seven parts of a group of septuplets who have to struggle to hide themselves from detection in a future of “one child laws,” in which their very existence is a huge crime. Rapace’s previous roles include The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and its two sequels), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and Prometheus. The role was originally going to be male, but director Tommy Wirkola says, “I was struck by the complexities of having an actor portray seven characters and immediately knew Noomi was the ideal actor — male or female — to bring them to life.”
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 MERYL STREEP, CAMERON DIAZ, AND MILLA JOVOVICH IN… THE EXPENDABELLES?
It’s been about a year now since we first heard about plans for a “female version” of The Expendables. Speaking to Bulgarian press (where the movie is planned to be filmed), producer Avi Lerner revealed three of the actresses that he is currently negotiating with to potentially star in the movie. But, first, we must really adress the name of the movie, which ascends (or descends, depending upon your opinion) to heights of ridiculousness: The ExpendaBelles. Got that title in your mind? Okay, now imagine Meryl Streep agreeing to star in that movie. The other two names are Cameron Diaz and Milla Jovovich (who one has to guess is probably the most likely to actually sign, since she does already work in Europe on action movies a lot, anyway). The script for The ExpendaBelles was written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, who worked together before on Legally Blonde.
#1 DREAMWORKS PICKS UP THE MOVIE RIGHTS TO AN EIGHTH GRADER’S JOURNAL
Hollywood has spent a lot of time and energy in recent years trying to make movies out of things read by 8th grade girls, with a lot of the eventual movies not actually doing that well at the box office. This week, someone at DreamWorks hit upon the idea that maybe they were approaching this all the way around the wrong way. DreamWorks has instead picked up the movie rights to something that was *written* by an eighth grade girl. Now fifteen, Maya Van Wagenen was in eighth grade when she wrote a journal which is now being published as a “book” called Popular: One Geek’s Quest for the Impossible. The journal was themed around old magazine articles and books from the 1950s like Betty Cornell’s Glamour Guide for Teens, and attempted to apply their advice to her life in the early 2010s. To adapt Van Wagenen’s journal into a movie script, DreamWorks has hired TV showrunner and screenwriter Amy B. Harris, whose work has included both Sex and the City and the spinoff series The Carrie Diaries.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.