This Week’s Ketchup was carefully compiled for you, as Greg Dean Schmitz had to sort through dozens of stories that were posted over the weekend in attempts to trick movie fans into believing various flights of April Fools fancy. Stories that came out this week that actually are real include reboots of The Mummy and Summer School, movies based on the lives of actresses Grace Kelly and Pam Grier, baseball great Hank Aaron, and Apple founder Steve Jobs, and sequels for Captain America, The Hunger Games and The Woman in Black.
This Week’s Top Story
UNIVERSAL PICTURES REBOOTING THE MUMMY… AGAIN
It was just thirteen years ago next month that Universal Pictures bombastically rebooted one of their classic monster properties as The Mummy, starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, and millions of CGI grains of sand. That film led to two sequels and a spin off series for The Scorpion King. Rather than continue the franchise with a fourth film, Universal Pictures is now developing a new reboot of The Mummy. Screenwriter Jon Spaihts has been hired to bring the franchise back to its roots in the “dark, scary source material, and simultaneously open it up to an epic scale we haven’t seen before.” Jon Spaihts’ previous film credit is another movie with lots of swirling CGI bits, last year’s The Darkest Hour. Jon Spaihts was also the original writer of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus before Damon Lindelof (LOST) came aboard for rewrites.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE SECOND MOVIE, IS ALMOST EXACTLY TWO YEARS AWAY
It’s been known for a while that Disney and Marvel Studios had slotted two mystery projects for release dates on April 4th and May 16th in 2014. This week, the two studios revealed, almost to the day two years ahead, that it will be the Captain America sequel that will be released on April 4th, 2014. Although few other details are known yet, the sequel is known to be continuing the story following The Avengers, as Captain America (Chris Evans) continues to acclimate to living in the 21st century and find his role in our modern world. Just last week, a short list was revealed of directors that Marvel is currently considering for the Captain America sequel. That list includes F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job, Law Abiding Citizen), George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau) and Community creators Joe and Anthony Russo (You, Me and Dupree). As for what the second Marvel release might be in 2014, strong possibilities include Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and (perhaps most likely) The Avengers 2.
#2 HANK AARON GETS A BIOPIC AND THE NATURAL CHOICE FOR DIRECTOR
The critical and box office success last year of Moneyball has some pundits and producers wondering if there’s a new and growing movie audience for true baseball stories. One project that is currently in the works is 42, about the relationship between Jackie Robinson and Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey (to be played by Harrison Ford). This week, Jackie Robinson got some competition as Hank Aaron (who’s still alive and kicking at the age of 78, by the way) has sold his life rights in a deal that includes the Howard Bryant book The Last Hero: The Life Story of Henry Aaron. The deal was orchestrated in part by producer Mike Tollin, whose past films include the sports movies Hardball, Varsity Blues and Coach Carter. Tollin isn’t the only one with baseball movie experience, as the director that has been hired for the Hank Aaron biopic is none other than Barry Levinson, who in addition to directing Rain Man and Good Morning Vietnam also gave the world one of the most iconic baseball movies ever, The Natural. The as-yet-untitled Hank Aaron biopic is expected to especially focus on Aaron’s pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record during his years with the Atlanta Braves.
#3 DANIEL RADCLIFFE MAY GET A NEW FRANCHISE WITH THE WOMAN IN BLACK: ANGELS OF DEATH
The question of whether Daniel Radcliffe could have a successful post-Harry Potter film career seemed to be at least partially answered earlier this year with The Woman in Black. That film has earned over $120 million worldwide, making it the most successful British horror film of the last 20 years. Because of that, Hammer Films is now moving ahead with plans for a sequel called The Woman in Black: Angels of Death, which will move the ghost story ahead 40 years, as a new couple encounters the haunted Eel Marsh House in the 1940s. The sequel is being written by Jon Croker, a newcomer who worked as story editor on the first film, and also as a production assistant on the third and fourth Harry Potter movies. It’s not yet known if director James Watkins will return for the sequel, or to what extent (if any) Daniel Radcliffe will be involved with the sequel.
#4 NICOLE KIDMAN TO PLAY HOLLYWOOD ROYALTY AS GRACE OF MONACO
After a competitive casting process, Nicole Kidman has come out on top to star as actress-turned-royalty Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco. The script by newcomer Arash Amel scored very well on the Black List of Unproduced Screenplays, and it will be directed by Olivier Dahan (La Vie en Rose, Crimson Rivers 2: Angels of the Apocalypse). Rather than a full biopic, like several other recent films (The King’s Speech, The Queen, The Iron Lady, etc), Grace of Monaco will focus on a specific period from 1961 to 1962 during which Princess Grace worked as a diplomat with Prince Rainier III to defend the sovereignty of Monaco.
#5 PAM GRIER GETS HER OWN FOXY BIOPIC TOO
Two actresses probably couldn’t have been more different, but Grace Kelly and Pam Grier now have something in common. Imprint Entertainment, one of the production companies behind two of the Twilight movies and also Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, has secured the film rights to Pam Grier’s autobiography Foxy: My Life in Three Acts. Pam Grier is of course an actress hailed by some (like Quentin Tarantino) as the first female action star, with her filmography including such early films as Coffy and Foxy Brown, and her later career has included Jackie Brown, Escape from L.A., Ghosts of Mars and a regular role on the Showtime series The L Word. Imprint Entertainment has hired TV writer and producer Eunetta Boone (My Wife and Kids, One on One) to adapt Grier’s story, which for this film is expected to especially focus on her early career in the 1970s and personal experiences that included relationships with Richard Pryor and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
#6 THIS WEEK IN HUNGER GAMES SEQUEL NEWS
For obvious reasons, Lionsgate is working diligently to get production started quickly on Catching Fire, their adaptation of the second novel in the Suzanne Collins trilogy that started with The Hunger Games. This week, there were two different news stories related to Catching Fire, one helping the adaptation move forward, and the other possibly slowing things down a bit. First, the good news: 20th Century Fox has scheduled filming of the sequel to X-Men: First Class for a start in January, 2013 with an eye towards allowing Jennifer Lawrence to film Catching Fire this fall, first. This is obviously also good news for fans of that movie, who are looking forward to more retro back story with Charles Xavier and his mutant students. The not-as-great news is that director Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) will not be returning for the sequel after obviously being a big part of what made the first novel’s adaptation successful both as a movie and an adaptation of Collins’ novel. We can also now expect to be deluged with stories in the coming weeks as Lionsgate begins to consider who will take over the directing reins for Catching Fire.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 KATY PERRY MAKES HER LIVE ACTION DEBUT PLAYING… HERSELF IN KATY PERRY: PART OF ME
Although she did voice Smurfette last year in The Smurfs, pop singer Katy Perry has not yet had a role in a live action movie, but that will change this summer… sort of. In a somewhat last minute announcement (just 3 months ahead), it was learned this week that Paramount Insurge and Imagine Entertainment will be releasing the 3D musical documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me in theaters on July 5th, 2012. The behind-the-scenes concert movie is being described as “the first ever big-screen look at the international superstar’s life both on- and off-stage.”
#2 ASHTON KUTCHER LANDS THE INEVITABLE STEVE JOBS BIOPIC
Every year on the last day of March, movie fans and reporters alike get ready to disbelieve pretty much everything that is soon to appear online. It happens almost every year, however, that one of the incredible sounding news stories that appears online on April 1st actually turns out to be legit. The news that Joss Whedon would be directing The Avengers was actually one relatively recent example of that. This year, that distinction most likely goes to the revelation that Steve Jobs lookalike Ashton Kutcher has actually been cast as the Apple founder in an independent biopic called Jobs. It’s important to note, however, that Jobs is not the biopic that was much publicized last year after Jobs’ passing, which is still in development at Sony Pictures, and is based upon Walter Isaacson’s authorized Steve Jobs biography. Instead, Jobs was written by newcomer Matt Whiteley and will be directed by Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote, Neverwas). It’s Stern’s RT Tomatometer scores that land Jobs a spot as one of this week’s Rotten Ideas.
#1 ADAM SANDLER AND HAPPY MADISON REMAKING SUMMER SCHOOL
Hollywood is full on in love with remaking, rebooting and sequelizing the 1980s; that much cannot be disputed. A sign that such a trend is deeply entrenched is when the movies that are getting rebooted and remade aren’t just the obvious successes and cultural milestones, but also include less remembered or cherished properties. The 1987 Mark Harmon comedy Summer School is arguably in that category. Although Summer School did have the distinction of being directed by Carl Reiner (The Jerk, All of Me, The Man with Two Brains — he really liked working with Steve Martin), it’s often forgotten when writers or fans look back on the teen comedies of the 1980s. And that’s too bad, because as the film’s 61% RT Tomatometer score shows, it’s actually a pretty good little comedy, with Mark Harmon playing a gym teacher forced to babysit a group of varied underachiever students during the summer. Anyway, Paramount has wanted to remake Summer School for several years now, and this week, the project got new life. Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company is now attached to shepherd the remake through development. The next step is to find a new writer to tackle the remake, which Adam Sandler isn’t (currently) expected to star in. One movie that Sandler will definitely be in however is Grown Ups 2, which will be his first sequel. Sandler’s friends Chris Rock, Kevin James and David Spade are all also expected to return, and this week brought news of the first new cast member for Grown Ups 2. Taylor Lautner, best known for his work as a teen actor in movies like The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D has signed on for an unspecified role in Grown Ups 2, which is just described as being “fun” and that he goes “toe to toe” with Sandler’s character. Or as might be better said for a new role for the Sharkboy kid… “fin to toe.”
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