This week’s Ketchup includes two movies with Stephen King connections (The Dark Tower, and a prequel to The Shining), sequels for Prometheus, Thor, and X-Men: First Class, and a new movie for He-Man and The Masters of the Universe.
This Week’s Top Story
A CLASSIC STORY GETS ADAPTED IN X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
The big movie news this week for comic book fans was the revelation by producer Bryan Singer that the title of the sequel to X-Men: First Class will be X-Men: Days of Future Past. First published in 1981 in issues #141 and #142 of The Uncanny X-Men, “Days of Future Past” was an influential (and often imitated) storyline that featured time travel and visions of a future of an alternate reality that was caused when the X-Men failed to prevent the assassination of Senator Kelly. “Days of Future Past” was arguably one of the first popular stories where fictional characters had encounters with their future selves, and saw the ramifications of their actions (well, after Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, anyway). Here’s some more of what Bryan Singer had to say about the premise, “I think there’s a strong desire to broaden out the universe. The X-Men universe on its own is every bit as big as the Marvel universe and I think it’s time to reach out and explore it and perhaps even bring some connectivity between the films, as Marvel’s done so well.” Filming is expected to start “in a few months.” X-Men: Days of Future Past will be directed by Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass).
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 RUSSELL CROWE AS ROLAND DESCHAIN IN THE DARK TOWER?
Warner Bros is reportedly expecting the latest draft soon of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (the first movie’s worth, anyway). Within two weeks, then, the studio will make a decision about whether to green light the first film in the planned franchise. In addition to that, it’s also been revealed that Javier Bardem is no longer in the running to star as Gunslinger Roland Deschain. Instead, producer Brian Grazer and director Ron Howard are talking to Russell Crowe, who has a history of starring in other Imagine Entertainment films such as A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man. It’s important to note that no deal has been made yet with Russell Crowe, and even if there was one, Warner Bros still has to give the project a green light. If this does come together, however, it will be the ending of one of the most tumultous development cycles in recent history.
#2 THE THIRD MOVIE OF PETER JACKSON’S THE HOBBIT CONFIRMED
A few weeks ago, as part of the San Diego Comic-Con coverage, this column reported on a rumor that Peter Jackson was considering expanding his two film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit into including a third film. This week, that plan was confirmed, with the third movie now being scheduled for release in the summer of 2014 (following the first two films on December 14, 2012 and December 13, 2013). As part of his announcement, Peter Jackson said this, “We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance.” The addition of the third film means that a new title needs to be chosen as well, with domains already being registered that suggest subtitles like The Desolation of Smaug and Riddles in the Dark. If either of those titles are chosen, they will probably be used for the second film, with the third film taking the already announced title of The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Following up on all of this, there was also soon after a story in The Hollywood Reporter about how there’s not technically any budget or script yet for the planned third film.
#3 THE PROMETHEUS SEQUEL IS ALREADY BEING PLANNED FOR 2014 OR 2015
Depending upon your perspective, Prometheus may have either been a smashing success, both critically and financially, or an ambitious film riddled with plot holes (or perhaps, you could see it both ways). Regardless, the film has indeed brought in over $300 million worldwide (and counting), and Prometheus has a Fresh RT Tomatometer score of 73%. And so, 20th Century Fox and director Ridley Scott are already starting their plans for a Prometheus sequel, which will be released in either 2014 or 2015. Spoiler warning here: stars Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace are already signed to return. Who may not return is screenwriter Damon Lindelof, who already has plenty of other projects that he’s working on, including rewrites of World War Z, and his new show for HBO. A movie that will probably also be a factor for director Ridley Scott, as to whether the Prometheus sequel can be released in 2014 or 2015, is his other follow up to one of his 1980s science fiction classics, the Blade Runner sequel/whatever-it-is.
#4 THE BIG BAD GUY IN THOR: THE DARK WORLD USED TO BE THE DOCTOR
Ever since the title was revealed to be Thor: The Dark World, there has been informed speculation that the villains of the sequel would be the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, led by Malekith the Accursed. That is the same villain that Mads Mikkelsen had at one time been in negotiations to play, until he eventually dropped out. This week, Mikkelsen’s replacement was found in the form of Christopher Eccleston (TV’s Heroes and Doctor Who), who is now in negotiations, and along with that news, we received confirmation that the main villain will indeed be Malekith the Accursed. There had been quite a few fans who in the last year have predicted that the villains in the sequel would be Amora the Enchantress and Skurge the Executioner, but Malekith is arguably just as deserving a villain for the second film. In particular, Malekith the Accursed was the central villain in a popular 1980s comic book storyline involving the Casket of Ancient Winters. Director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) is expected to start filming at locations in England (and possibly Iceland) soon, preparing for a release date of November 18, 2013. In other related news, Marvel Studios this week hired screenwriter Chris McCoy to start work on the cosmic adventure Guardians of the Galaxy.
#5 DREW BARRYMORE TO JOIN THE APOCALYPSE BANDWAGON IN THE END
The end of the world is sort of a big thing this year in Hollywood, with Seeking a Friend for the End of the World recently in theaters, and Seth Rogen and friends recently filming End of the World for a June 14, 2013 release date. The latest entrant to this mini-trend is Drew Barrymore (Whip It), who has signed with Warner Bros to direct an apocalyptic drama called The End. The ensemble drama will deal with several people across the planet as they prepare for how they will spend their last day on Earth. Barrymore will not herself be appearing in the film, which was written by TV writer Aron Eli Coleite (Heroes, The River).
#6 DIANE KRUGER TO PLAY LINCOLN’S STEPMOM IN THE GREEN BLADE RISES
Another recent mini-trend in movies are films featuring Abraham Lincoln, which of course includes Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, as well as 2010’s The Conspirator, and Stephen Spielberg’s upcoming biopic Lincoln. Director Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, Badlands), who has recently become uncharacteristically productive (To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, and one other), is the latest filmmaker to announce his own Lincoln-related film. Diane Kruger will play Sarah Lincoln, Abraham’s stepmother, in a historical drama called The Green Blade Rises. Malick plans on filming in black and white on location in Indiana this fall. The Green Blade Rises will tell the story of Abraham Lincoln’s youth from the perspective of the two women who were influential in his young life.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 RUSSELL BRAND TO PLAY MYTHOLOGICAL ARCHER IN CUPID
This has truly been the year of the archer at the movies (Brave, The Avengers, The Hunger Games), and that trend may continue as two of those films will have sequels, and other archery-related films are in development. One of them is Cupid, which is a Warner Bros romantic comedy that Russell Brand is attached to star in as the mythological creature tasked with creating the perfect romance in a modern setting. Cupid got its start as a comedy pitch from director Joe Nussbaum (Prom). Russell Brand also made the news this week for replacing Jim Carrey in the comedy Pierre Pierre about a “a self-indulgent Frenchman who plans on stealing the Mona Lisa to get enough money to move out of his parent’s house.” Both Cupid and Pierre Pierre can be considered “Rotten Ideas” this week due mostly to the prevalence of yucky green splotches on Russell Brand’s RT Tomatometer page.
#2 A NEW HE-MAN MOVIE? NEVER SAY NEVER
Sony Pictures has begun negotations with director Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never) about their long-planned live action film based on the Mattel Masters of the Universe toy line. Jon M. Chu also recently worked with Sony Pictures on the sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation (which is also based upon a toy franchise), which was originally scheduled for a June release before being pushed back several months to March 29, 2013. Also known as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the toy line was also the inspiration for a popular syndicated cartoon back in the 1980s, and a live action film in 1987 starring Dolph Lundgren. Anyway, so yeah, the Step Up/Justin Bieber guy is going to direct a He-Man movie. Discuss.
#1 ALL PREQUELS AND NO ORIGINAL IDEAS MAKE JACK A VERY DULL BOY: A PREQUEL FOR THE SHINING
The last few years in movie development have seen the announcements of dozens of remakes, but the Next Big Thing appears possibly to be prequels, which are increasing in popularity following successes (all at 20th Century Fox) like X-Men: First Class, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Prometheus. But now, other studios besides just 20th Century Fox are getting the prequel bug as well. This week, it’s Warner Bros, where studio execs are reportedly “quietly exploring the possibilty” of a prequel to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (which was itself based upon a book by Stephen King). Right now, there’s no firm details about what a prequel to The Shining would be about, but the most likely answer would seem to be the history of the Overlook Hotel (since the original film had a back story of horrible events happening there previously). The concept of The Shining getting a prequel 30 years later is the week’s Most Rotten Idea for obvious reasons.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.