This week’s Ketchup actually represents a full three weeks since the last true Weekly Ketchup was published on December 21, 2012. Even so, most of these stories actually did happen in the last seven days, because the period before and after Christmas and New Year’s is a time when Hollywood is basically a ghost town as far as movie development goes. Included in the mix are stories involving Tina Fey, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brad Pitt, and directors Wes Anderson, Christopher Nolan, and Robert Rodriguez.
This Week’s Top Story
THIS YEAR’S OSCAR NOMINATIONS RESULT IN DIRECTORIAL SNUBS AND AT LEAST ONE AGE-RELATED CONTROVERSY
Every year, the Academy Award nominations make the news. Besides the actual awards themselves, it’s one of the few times in a year when movies make major headlines based (ostensibly) on their actual “quality,” and not just, say, box office and celebrity cachet (though those are also factors as well). Let’s get some crucial linkage out of the way right here, which takes you to RT’s list of nominations. Also, over at Deadline, you can see the nominations by movie, and by studio. And now, to the controversies. In the director category, there is the whole matter of two names being omitted from the field of five: Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty). Curiously, both films in question involved true stories about CIA agents and their activities in Islamic nations. The other big story involved the Sundance surprise hit Beasts of the Southern Wild, and specifically, that film’s star Quvenzhané Wallis, who was only 8 when the movie was filmed, and who is now a Best Actress nominee for her first role. The controversy there is basically about whether child actors should receive the same sort of honors that adult actors receive, often after decades of work before ever receiving their first nomination (and many never do). Seth McFarlane will host the 85th Academy Awards on ABC on Sunday, February 24th, 2013. There will be jokes.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S NEXT WILL BE SPIELBERG CAST OFF INTERSTELLAR
If the result of Steven Spielberg having too many films in development is this story, maybe he should develop even more: To follow up The Dark Knight Rises, director Christopher Nolan has selected the science fiction film Interstellar, which was formerly one of Spielberg’s future post-Lincoln projects. Inspired by the work of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, Interstellar involves “a group of explorers traveling through a wormhole, where they encounter time travel and alternate dimensions.” Nolan will be rewriting his brother Jonathan Nolan’s original script to incorporate his own story idea. Interstellar is based at Paramount Pictures, but since Nolan has a long relationship with Warner Bros, that studio will also be coming aboard to co-produce and likely co-distribute the film. Going back to Steven Spielberg very briefly, he also made the news this week because filming of his science fiction movie Robopocalypse (starring Anne Hathaway and Chris Hemsworth) has been delayed for a while so that additional work on the script can be done. Blame budget concerns and all that.
#2 BRAD PITT TO MAKE SURE THAT PONTIUS PILATE WASHED HIS HANDS (AND SEALED HIS FATE)
Brad Pitt is circling the lead role as Pontius Pilate in the eponymous historical epic that Warner Bros is currently developing. The Deadline story describes Pontius Pilate as “one of history’s most vilified figures,” but exactly how the Bible describes Pilate’s role is apparently up for debate and interpretation. Pontius Pilate was, of course, the Roman Prefect for the Roman province of Judaea from 26-36 A.D., the duties of which included deciding what to do with a local rabbi named Jesus. Pontius Pilate will be based upon a screenplay by screenwriter Vera Blasi, who wrote the 2000 film Woman on Top, and cowrote Tortilla Soup and the upcoming Douglas McArthur movie Emperor. In addition to the title character, Jesus, and a whole bunch of angry Jerusalem citizens, Blasi’s script also includes appearances by the emperors Tiberius and Caligula, and John the Baptist, Salome, and Mary Magdalene.
#3 JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT AND JOSH BROLIN JOIN THE PREQUEL SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
Director Robert Rodriguez has been filming the prequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For against green screens in Austin since October, but it was only this past week that some of the bigger casting news has emerged. First, there was the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, hot off both The Dark Knight Rises and Looper, has signed on to play a “cocky gambler” named Johnny. The next day, it was revealed that Josh Brolin will be playing the lead role of Dwight, which was previously played in the first Sin City by Clive Owen. Christopher Meloni from Law & Order: SVU and True Blood will also be playing a “disreputable cop.” These three actors join an ensemble cast which already included returning cast Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Jamie King, and Mickey Rourke, and new additions Jamie Chung and Dennis Haysbert (of 24 and those insurance commercials). Dimension Films will release Sin City: A Dame to Kill For on October 4, 2013.
#4 THE STAR OF THE GODZILLA REBOOT MAY KICK-ASS
Just a few weeks after all of the press for Guillermo Del Toro’s giant monster event film Pacific Rim, the period since Christmas has now seen a lot of press highlighting the studio’s reboot of Godzilla. Two of the three main Godzilla stories can be interpreted as “Fresh,” but let’s start with the bad news. The gist is that Legendary Pictures has filed suit to remove three producers from the reboot, and to also stop a potential restraining order filed by those producers against the production. This is probably of most interest to people who are, you know, interested in… entertainment legal news. There’s a fanbase for everything, one has to presume. Of more potential interest to people reading this column for clues about what the movie may actually be like, Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Walking Dead) has signed on to do a “final rewrite” of the Godzilla script. Even more significantly, the casting of the lead role in Godzilla has gone from a short list (which included Henry Cavill, Caleb Landry Jones, and Scott McNairy) to being narrowed down to Aaron Johnson, star of Kick-Ass. Of course, what we don’t know is what exactly that role involves, but one has to guess if Aaron Johnson signs on, he will probably spend a lot of time staring up at a green screen, shouting something like “Gojira! Gojira!” Matthew Broderick, Hank Azaria, and Maria Pitillo won’t be in this one when Warner Bros releases it on May 16, 2014.
#5 TINA FEY’S BOSSYPANTS WILL NOT HAVE A HAND UP THEM, BUT SHE MAY BE IN THE MUPPETS SEQUEL
Tina Fey is in late negotiations with Walt Disney Pictures to take the female lead role in the sequel to the 2011 relaunch of The Muppets. If Fey signs on, she will be reuniting with Ricky Gervais, with whom she costarred in The Invention of Lying. The Muppets sequel (which still lacks an official title) will be a caper across Europe, with Ty Burrell from Modern Family playing an Interpol agent. Christoph Waltz was formerly expected to be playing that agent, but it turns out that he might still have a cameo role, and if he does, it will involve dancing with Miss Piggy. So, there you go. There’s a very good chance that Disney will be releasing the Muppets sequel in less than a year as part of the Christmas 2013 holiday movie season.
#6 WES ANDERSON CASTS ENOUGH ACTORS TO ACTUALLY FILL UP AN ESTABLISHMENT CALLED GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Thankfully, this story didn’t have to be reported completely piecemeal, or Wes Anderson’s next film Grand Budapest Hotel might have taken up a month of Fridays. The director (Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore), who isn’t new to working with large, celebrity-filled ensemble casts, is kicking it up a notch in this next film, set at a hotel in the Hungarian capital back in the 1920s. Ralph Fiennes will play the hotel concierge, and the other lead role will be played by Hanna star Saoirse Ronan. For the rest of the cast, we might as well just go alphabetical: F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Bob Balaban (revealed by the actor on Facebook), Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, and Jude Law will represent the first half of the alphabet. Then there’s Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, and Owen Wilson to represent the second half. Anderson has worked with a lot of these actors before, but it’s possibly more fun for you (and less work for me), if this writer just lets you, dear readers, figure out which ones played whom in what.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 FILE UNDER SEQUELS FEW WERE EXPECTING OR DEMANDING: THE HEBREW HAMMER VS HITLER
First off, this writer should note that back at Sundance in 2003, he was quick to jump on the bandwagon for an indie comedy called The Hebrew Hammer. At the time, it seemed like it might just be the next movie to explode in popularity after a strong Park City debut (that used to be “a thing”). Instead, The Hebrew Hammer made its debut as a Comedy Central premiere 11 months later, with only an obligatory limited release in theaters soon after. As a very quick primer, the comedic conceit behind The Hebrew Hammer was that it was a spoof of blaxploitation movies filtered through Jewish culture, with Adam Goldberg playing the lead character. The result was a lot like Undercover Brother, but with Andy Dick as the evil son of Santa Claus. Anyway, it’s now ten years later, and a sequel is coming together which be called The Hebrew Hammer Versus Hitler. The joke this time around will involve the Hebrew Hammer traveling back in time to take on the Third Reich, and along the way through history, he teams up with another famous Jew, Jesus Christ. It’s not yet known if this sequel will get a better theatrical release than the original film. The first movie got a “Rotten” RT Tomatometer rating of 52%, which is why this is one of the column’s “Rotten Ideas” this week.
#2 R.I.P. SNAKES ON A PLANE DIRECTOR DAVID R. ELLIS
Whatever the critics might think of a movie (or in this case, several movies), it’s still sad when we hear about a filmmaker being taken from us prematurely. And so, this column unfortunately has to announce (for those who missed it at the time) that David R. Ellis, the director of such films as Snakes on a Plane, Shark Night 3D, and The Final Destination died on January 7, while preparing to film the anime adaptation Kite in South Africa. Samuel L. Jackson was to have starred in that movie, the production of which is now probably scrapped. No cause of death is yet known. David R. Ellis was 60.
#1 BEING THE FIRST NEW #1 MOVIE OF 2013 EARNS TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D A SEQUEL (OR MAYBE NOT)
Opening up against a very strong field of late 2012 movies (including lots of Oscar contenders), Texas Chainsaw 3D did well enough to open at #1 in its first weekend with over $24 million in domestic box office. This quickly led to online news that Millennium Films was already developing a sequel to the film. Normally, that would be both the beginning and the end of the story (because, really, what else more is there to say about a story like this?). However, the surprise that came later in the week was that there is still some dispute about whether or not a sequel has indeed be greenlit, due to a disagreement about who has the right to make such a decision. Regardless, none of the writing in that link actually says there won’t be a Texas Chainsaw 3D sequel, either, which leaves us at square one. There will probably be more chainsaws, in Texas, in the future, in 3D.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.