This week’s Ketchup covers a week that saw news for an unusual number of animated projects (including an R-rated comedy cowritten by Seth Rogen) and a movie version of the Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb. Franchise entries The Hobbit and Pirates of the Caribbean 5 also had news, as well as movies based on Pippi Longstocking, the TV series Dynasty and the Missile Command videogame.
Last month, there was a story online that Walt Disney Pictures was telling the crew of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides to make room in their schedule for both #5 and #6 in the franchise. This week, at least half of that story was apparently confirmed, as the studio has hired screenwriter Terry Rossio to start working on the fifth Pirates movie. Disney is also in talks with Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha) to direct his second Pirates movie (On Stranger Tides was his first, after Gore Verbinski directed the first three). The Terry Rossio news is particularly interesting because it means the fifth movie will be the first that he will write without his longtime writing partner Ted Elliott. As for who might star in Pirates of the Caribbean 5 (as if this is really much of a question), Johnny Depp addressed the fifth movie in this week’s Entertainment Weekly (which has him as Jack Sparrow on the cover). “As long as we can put all the puzzle pieces together, I would most definitely consider it,” Depp said.
Back before any official casting had been done for Peter Jackson’s two movies adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the common expectation was that the first two announcements would be Andy Serkis as Gollum and Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf. The reason for this is because both actors played those characters in the three Lord of the Rings movies, seemed to enjoy doing it, and after Bilbo Baggins himself, are probably the most memorable characters in The Hobbit. Instead, the last few months have seen over twenty people cast in the movies, and McKellen and Sirkis have remained “in talks.” That all changed this week, as Andy Serkis was confirmed as having signed on, followed soon after (seemingly an hour later!) by Sir Ian McKellen. Two other actors seen in the Lord of the Rings movies were also revealed to now be in talks. Sir Christopher Lee would return as the wizard Saruman (despite not appearing in the novel The Hobbit, but he joins characters like Galadriel and Legolas in that regard). Sir Ian Holm is also in talks to reprise his role as the older Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman will play the character for most of the movies), most likely in the same introductory scenes in which Elijah Wood will be playing his younger cousin Frodo Baggins. As for why there was such a delay in the official casting of Gandalf, Sir Ian posted on his blog this week that the reason was not money, but scheduling, so his time spent on set over the 18 months of filming would allow him to work on other projects.
Civil rights movement leader Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century who has not yet been the focus of a major Hollywood movie. That is not without trying, however. In 2009, Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks acquired the full rights to King’s life story from his estate (but there has been little news for that project ever since). More recently, director Lee Daniels (Precious) nearly started filming a movie called Selma about the relationship between MLK and LBJ, but Daniels had to move on in 2010 over financing issues. Now, director Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Ultimatum) is reported to be borrowing the titular theme of Selma for his own MLK project called Memphis. Greengrass reportedly wrote the Memphis script based upon his own research, and the movie will focus on the final months of King’s life during early 1968 when he was trying to organize the city’s sanitation workers, and his new focus on unions and protecting Vietnam was costing him support among civil rights activists. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.
This week, as part of the publicity for The Green Hornet, Seth Rogen’s frequent screenwriting partner Evan Goldberg talked about some of the other projects they are trying to get made. This includes the previously announced comedy with Jay Baruchel called Jay and Seth Vs. the Apocalypse. Jay Baruchel also recently wrapped a hockey movie in Canada called The Goon. What’s particularly interesting is that how that title leads us to the big news in Goldberg’s interview. Goldberg’s The Goon is not the R-rated animated adaptation that director David Fincher is trying to get made. But Goldberg and Seth Rogen are trying to get an R-rated animated comedy greenlit, just not that one. First mentioned at Comic-Con last year as their secret project, we now know that Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill hope to provide the voices for Sausage Party, “a Rated-R, super dirty, mockery of a Pixar movie about sausages in a supermarket that need to get back to their aisle before the fourth of July.” Goldberg doesn’t specifically say so, but this writer is guessing that the Sausage Party script may have at least one penis joke.
There have obviously been a lot of live action/animated movies in the last several years based upon cartoon television series. However, what are a lot less common are such movies based upon shows that are actually as young as their audience (unless you count older skewing action movies like The Last Airbender). This week, an executive at the Disney Channel announced that Walt Disney Pictures is in the early stages of planning a theatrical feature film based upon the network’s hit show Phineas and Ferb. The animated musical comedy follows the adventures of a pair of stepbrothers who each episode come up with a new invention or adventure, and also features their pet duck-billed platypus (who is actually a secret agent) and an evil scientist named Doctor Doofenshmirtz. Although there are not yet any other details about this theatrical movie, it follows Disney’s other Phineas and Ferb expansion plans, which include the talk show Take Two with Phineas and Ferb and the upcoming made-for-TV movie Phineas and Ferb Across the 2nd Dimension.
The month of December, 2010 was very active for DreamWorks Animation, as the studio has announced several new projects. First, there were the ambitious sequel plans for Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon franchises. These were soon followed by the original concept Me and My Shadow and the comic book adaptation Maintenance. Now, the animation studio has announced another semi-original project called Monkeys of Bollywood (which is a working title). Inspired by the Indian epic story called The Ramayana, Monkeys of Bollywood will tell the story (set in modern day Mumbai) of “two common monkeys who become unlikely heroes in a last ditch effort to stop an ancient, thought-to-be-mythical demon from conquering the world.” The Bollywood-style animated musical will be a collaboration between lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Enchanted, Prince of Egypt), Indian composer A. R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) and screenwriters Gurinder Chadha and Paul Berges (Bride & Prejudice, Bend It Like Beckham).
Usually, when we find out movie development news, it comes in the form of an article or press release written entirely around the news. Sometimes, however, journalists “bury the lead” and what another writer would have made a big deal about, you find only referred to in passing, and in brief. That is how the world found out this week about the plans for a new adaptation of the Swedish children’s book series Pippi Longstocking. Author Astrid Lindgren’s popular character was a 9-year-old girl with braids that stuck off the side of her head and who often played pranks on adults using her amazing super strength. The new Pippi Longstocking project is being developed by a surprising director, as Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone, Down to the Bone) has to date mostly made independent movies that are not at all similar to the expected tone of a Pippi Longstocking movie. It’s easy however to imagine how a modern take on Pippi Longstocking could be reimagined to make her a quasi-superheroine like Hit Girl from Kick-Ass (but probably with a lot less swear words). That is of course, just a guess, because the article didn’t go on to say anything specific about what Granik plans to do with Pippi Longstocking.
Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg are in talks with Columbia Pictures to star as father and son (despite there only 12 years between them) in the comedy I Hate You, Dad. Sandler’s “negotiations” are extrenely likely to go through, as his Happy Madison production company is actually producing the comedy. Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg also both got their careers started on Saturday Night Live (Samberg is still on the show). Sandler will play a father who moves in with his son on the night before his wedding, and quickly begins fighting with his daughter-in-law-to-be, threatening their marriage before it even begins. The original script was written by David Caspe (creator of the upcoming ABC series Happy Endings), and has since been rewritten by The State alumni David Wain (cowriter of Wet Hot American Summer) and Ken Marino, who also cowrote Role Models. Andy Samberg also made the news this week as one of the potential (but not yet confirmed) stars of the Farrelly Brothers’ The Three Stooges. Samberg was reported to be in talks to play Larry, with Johnny Knoxville considered as Moe and Australian comic Shane Jacobson up for the role of Curly. However, Peter Farrelly quickly got online and debunked that news, saying that the casting of the movie is still “wide open to everybody.” Going back to I Hate You, Dad, this is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas only as a borderline selection, based mostly on the tendency for Adam Sandler’s movies to do poorly with critics. Many comedy fans, on the other hand, often disagree with them, and so Adam Sandler continues to have one of the most successful comedy track records in Hollywood.
Something that was somewhat unusual about last year’s movie version of The A-Team was that instead of being a direct adaptation, the entire movie took place before the original 1980s TV series. Basically, that entire movie was an adaptation of the thirty five words that made up the first two sentences of The A-Team‘s opening narration. Now, the creators of another popular 1980s TV show are planning their own prequel movie. Richard and Esther Shapiro were the creators of Dynasty, a prime time soap opera that aired on ABC from 1981 to 1989, following the personal dramas of the members of the family of oil tycoon Blake Carrington. It is arguably not at all a coincidence that Dallas premiered three years earlier on CBS, was also a prime time soap opera about the family of a oil tycoon, and was one of the most successful series in television history (a Dallas movie has also been in development for several years). The Shapiros are planning their Dynasty movie as a prequel set in the 1960s (which leads to a comparison to Mad Men). “It’s fun, because the fans of the show will know from the series where each of the characters end up, eventually, but what they won’t know is how they get there. There will be some very unlikely twists and situations, and people will not be expecting a lot of what we’re planning. We’re going to do a lot of coloring outside the lines,” Richard Shapiro said. The Shapiros hope to start production on the Dynasty prequel movie in 2012, but as yet, there is no studio attached to actually produce and release the movie. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas mostly because it is both a TV series adaptation and a prequel that no one seems to be clamoring for. Dynasty was indeed a very popular show in the 1980s (especially after Joan Collins joined the cast in the second season), but for the most part, Dynasty seems to have faded into relative pop culture obscurity. What’s next, Falcon Crest, the movie musical?
Nearly a year ago, there was a story that Atari was shopping around a movie project based upon the classic videogame Missile Command. 20th Century Fox was mentioned as a possible destination, but nothing was confirmed. With the passing of time, it seemed like perhaps the idea of a Missile Command movie would just fade away into irrelevance as just another one of those silly ideas that thankfully never came to be. Yes, that’s one possibility. The other is that 20th Century Fox has started development on a Missile Command movie, and has hired two screenwriters to adapt the game which has no ostensible narrative other than the goal of shooting missiles out of the sky. Screenwriters Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama don’t yet have a released movie to their credit, but they did sell their script Dracula: Year Zero to Universal last year, which Sam Worthington is attached to star in. Although there have obviously been many movies based on video games, Missile Command has more in common with board game adaptations like next summer’s Battleship because it precedes the time in which video games started having an actual story to them. That lack of any narrative story to base the script upon is why Missile Command is this week’s Most Rotten Idea.