This week’s Ketchup includes big superhero news, such as the film debut of Wonder Woman and the announcement of X-Men: Apocalypse for 2016. There’s also a few sports-related movies (involving LeBron James and Vince Lombardi), and our first glimpse at the movies of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 FOX ANNOUNCES 2016 RELEASE DATE FOR X-MEN: APOCALYPSE
There were a few different stories this week concerning 20th Century Fox and the continuing Marvel-based projects, but the biggest story teases us with the introduction of one of the company’s biggest mutant menaces. 20th Century Fox has announced a release date of May 27, 2016 for X-Men: Apocalypse, which will be the sixth X-Men movie, following next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. The “Apocalypse” of the title refers to one of the first mutants, an ancient Egyptian shapeshifter who returns to power 5,000 years later to become one of the X-Men’s biggest foes. The most popular storyline featuring the villain was the 1995 event called Age of Apocalypse, set in an alternate reality in which Charles Xavier’s time travelling son Legion accidentally killed his father (while trying to kill Magneto). It’s not quickly explained, but it eventually leads to a very different world in which Apocalypse has successfully taken over. Since we already know that X-Men: Days of Future Past features time travel and a possible dystopian future, it doesn’t take much imagination to see how something like Age of Apocalypse could be implemented into this next movie. Elsewhere in the news, we also heard this week that Hugh Jackman remains unsure about how much longer he will play Wolverine. Someone who is more sure of his future with X-Men (and Fanatstic Four) movies is writer/producer Simon Kinberg, who signed a new three year contract with 20th Century to work on exactly that.
#2 THIS WEEK IN RELEASE DATE NEWS: BOURNE 5, THE MUMMY REBOOT, AND (NOT GTA) SAN ANDREAS
In addition to X-Men: Apocalypse, a few other big movies also received release dates this week. Universal Pictures has scheduled the movie currently being called just Bourne 5 for August 14, 2015, with Jeremy Renner signed to reprise his role as Aaron Cross. That’s the same release date as The Smurfs 3. Universal Pictures has also scheduled their reboot of The Mummy for April 22, 2016, and bumped the videogame adaptation WarCraft (more on that one later in the column) from December 18, 2015 to March 11, 2016. The reason for that shift is being seen as a reaction to the recent scheduling of Star Wars Episode VII for that same period. Finally, there is the Dwayne Johnson earthquake movie San Andreas, which Warner Bros has scheduled for release in 3D on June 5, 2015.
#3 WARCRAFT FULL CAST ANNOUNCED, INCLUDING PAULA PATTON AND BEN FOSTER
After an autumn of casting rumors and speculation (which frequently included Colin Farrell), Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures this week announced the main cast of the 2016 videogame adaptation Warcraft. The six announced actors include Paula Patton (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger), Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma), Travis Fimmel (Vikings), Rob Kazinsky (Pacific Rim), and Toby Kebbell (The Counselor). What was not announced is which characters each of them will be playing. Besides Colin Farrell, what’s also lacking from the cast are any other “name stars,” which signals an emphasis on an ensemble cast vibe. That’s not surprising, of course, considering that the franchise is really the biggest selling point for a Warcraft movie, and the promise of many more to come. Warcraft will be directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) and will be released by Universal Pictures on March 11, 2016.
#4 LEBRON JAMES AND KEVIN HART TO PLAY MISMATCHED BROTHERS IN BASKETBALL COMEDY BALLERS
Basketball star LeBron James and comedian Kevin Hart have signed with Universal Pictures to star in the sports comedy Ballers. Kevin Hart (who is 17 inches shorter than LeBron James) will play a man who has lived his life (literally) in the shadow of his basketball star brother, and who gets a chance to shine when he attends a basketball camp in Miami. Cleveland has been attracting a lot of movie production lately, but it’s probably safe to say that Ballers won’t be one of them. LeBron James currently plays for the Miami Heat.
#5 THE PATH TO THE VINCE LOMBARDI BIOPIC JUST GOT MORE COMPETITIVE THIS WEEK
We’ve known for a while that Robert De Niro is attached to produce and star in a biopic of famed Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, in conjunction with ESPN Films. This week, that project got some very intense competition from Legendary Pictures, the company that this year released the Jackie Robinson biopic 42. Writer-director J.C. Chandor, who currently has All is Lost in theaters, has signed with Legendary to adapt his own Vince Lombardi biopic. The rights package that Legendary is working with includes a deal with the Lombardi family, and the rights to both the Broadway play and the book it was based upon, called When Pride Still Mattered (which could also a pretty great title for a movie). While J.C. Chandor starts work on this project, his next movie to actually start filming will be A Most Violent Year, starring Jessica Chastain.
#6 THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL’S 2014 COMPETITION INCLUDES NEW MOVIES STARRING KRISTEN STEWART AND AARON PAUL
Early every year, while much press is also being written about the previous year and various awards ceremonies, the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah is a big part of getting the next year’s potential critical favorites off to a start. One key part of the Sundance schedule to look for the potential gems is the U.S. Dramatic Competition slate, which was announced this week. Being Sundance and the cradle for young independent filmmakers, many of the listed films do not feature stars, but some do. Included in the mix in 2014 will be Camp X-Ray (starring Kristen Stewart as a guard stationed at Guantanamo Bay), Hellion (a family drama featuring Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad), Cold in July (Michael C. Hall and Vinessa Shaw), Life After Beth (Aubrey Plaza and John C. Reilly), Low Down (John Hawkes and Elle Fanning), The Skeleton Twins (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), Song One (Anne Hathaway), and Whiplash (Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons).
#7 AMANDA SEYFRIED TO STAR IN THE SOCIAL NETWORKING COMEDY HE’S F-ING PERFECT
The movie development process sometimes features movies with working titles that include profanities, which in recent years have included F**kbuddies (AKA Friends with Benefits) and Another Bulls**t Night in Suck City (AKA the much more forgettable Being Flynn). This story concerns a movie which appears to be going into production with its inferred profanity intact, thanks to a hyphen. Amanda Seyfried has signed to replace the previously attached Emma Stone in the “social networking comedy” He’s F-ing Perfect, for Universal Pictures. The comedy will be about “an Internet-savvy woman who convinces her friend to dump her new boyfriend so she can date him instead.” Will Ferrell is coproducing the comedy for newcomer director Jake Szymanski.
#8 OLD SCHOOL HORROR REVIVAL WEEK: SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK AND VERONICA’S ROOM
These two stories lack any big movie stars (for now) or flashier franchise reputations, but hey, at least they’re not remakes. Two decades long horror properties made the movie development news cycle this week. The one with the most impressive name recognition might be Veronica’s Room, which back in the 1970s was a Broadway play written by Ira Levin, whose books also inspired the movies Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives. Veronica’s Room (not to be confused with Victoria’s Closet) is about two college students acting as caretakers at an old mansion who discover that one of them closely resembles a dead member of the family. Another golden oldie is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a 1981 kid-friendly anthology by Alvin Schwartz which went on to have a few sequels. CBS Films and the writers of the last four Saw movies are partnering on an adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark about “a group of outcast kids who stand up to their fears to save their town when nightmares come to life.” In other words, it almost sounds like it could be an adaptation of the title more than the actual book or any of the stories in it (though it obviously could still be).