This week’s Ketchup covers ten headlines from the realm of film development news that you may have missed in the last seven days. Included in the mix this time around are stories involving such movies as Assassin’s Creed, Thor: Ragnarok, a remake of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and the Enchanted sequel, Disenchanted.
In July, Ghostbusters director/producer Ivan Reitman dismissed stories about a second upcoming Ghostbusters movie featuring action stars like Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt as being “just noise.” Just over two months later, we’re now hearing about another new Ghostbusters movie (after next year’s female-led reboot, scheduled for 7/15/16). And possibly ironically, this new movie will also be produced by Ivan Reitman. The movie in question will be an animated Ghostbusters movie, although no other details are known about it. There was previously an animated show from 1986 to 1991 called The Real Ghostbusters which was an adaptation of the original cast, featuring the characters played in live-action by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Harold Ramis. In that case, the show had to be called The Real Ghostbusters because there had already been a cartoon show called Ghostbusters (which was itself based upon the 1970s kids TV show starring Larry Storch). This news about an animated Ghostbusters movie follows news earlier this year that Sony is also developing an animated Spider-Man movie to follow their live-action reboot scheduled for July 28, 2017.
Although it’s obviously not always true, Marvel Studios has established something of a pattern of frequently taking chances with new-ish directors, or directors whose filmographies don’t necessarily scream out “Make Mine Marvel!” We’re including in that list Kenneth Branagh (Thor), Shane Black (Iron Man 3), Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World), and the Russo Brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). For this week’s news, it’s obviously of note that two of those films were the first two Thor movies, which were directed by Branagh (best known for Shakespeare adaptations) and Alan Taylor (a Game of Thrones director who had never directed a major studio film with a huge budget). Marvel Studios is going to try something similar again with Thor: Ragnarok (11/3/17), because they are now in talks with a relative newcomer named Taika Waititi. Taika Waititi cowrote, codirected and costarred in this year’s vampire/horror/comedy indie hit What We Do in the Shadows along with Jemaine Clement. Other directors that Marvel had been considering for Thor: Ragnarok included Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), Rob Letterman (Monsters vs Aliens), and Rawson Marshall Thurber (We’re the Millers), which suggests Marvel was intentionally seeking out a director with a record of successfully directing a comedy. Will Thor: Ragnarok be more comedic than the title suggests, or does Marvel just think comedy directors are a good fit for their films in general?
As people continue to bemoan how many superhero movies there are, there also remains a vast untapped resource of potential video game adaptations, partly because in a way, modern video games sort of are interactive films. The reason they are untapped, of course, is that video game adaptation movies don’t have a great track record, either financially or critically. The search is still ongoing, however, for the movie that might someday turn things around. Two such movies are scheduled for next year. Universal and Legendary Pictures have Warcraft (6/10/16), and 20th Century Fox has Assassin’s Creed (12/21/16). Michael Fassbender has been attached as the lead for Assassin’s Creed for some time, and Marion Cotillard is the female lead. This week, we learned that two acclaimed actors are going to be playing their characters’ fathers. Jeremy Irons will play Cotillard’s father, and Brendan Gleeson will play Michael Fassbender’s character’s father. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard also star together in this year’s newest film version of William Shakespeare’s MacBeth, which was directed by Justin Kurzel, who is also directing Assassin’s Creed.
Although Matthew Vaughn is best known for having directed superhero movies based on comic books (Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class), this year, Vaughn had another hit with a movie which was “only” based on a comic book. That film was Kingsman: The Secret Service, the subtitle of which was the title of the Mark Millar comic book it was based upon. This week, we found out that Matthew Vaughn’s next film will indeed have something in common with his last, but it won’t be the comic book part. Matthew Vaughn has signed on with MGM to direct their adaptation of I Am Pilgrim, a 2014 best selling espionage thriller novel written by Terry Hayes. Filming is expected to start in 2016 on the movie, which is about a retired espionage leader who is called back to service “to lend his expertise to an unusual investigation but ultimately becomes caught in a terrifying race against time to save America from a cunning terrorist.”
The downside to Hollywood sometimes announcing multiple films in a franchise simultaneously is that their corporate optimism about the first film sometimes backfires. One recent example of this was the Fantastic Four reboot, a sequel to which seems a lot less likely now that the film was both a critical and box office flop. Another franchise in a similar predicament is Terminator, which also released a new entry this past summer in the form of Terminator: Genisys. Like Fantastic Four, Terminator: Genisys was announced along with planned sequels (specifically a new trilogy). However, the reviews for Terminator: Genisys were slightly better (26% Rotten instead of just 9%), and the film did better box office in China than it did in the USA. This week, however, we learned, in something of a buried lead (in an article about the perils of franchise building) that “the $150 million-plus movie still will lose money, and sources say the notion of a Terminator universe is on hold indefinitely.” We’re calling this a “Fresh Development” based on the Rotten Tomatometer score for Terminator: Genisys, because the implication is that further Terminator movies not being produced is something of a dodged bullet. Or a time travel alternate reality course correction, if you prefer your analogies very on-the-nose.
Last month, some were surprised by the news that Joaquin Phoenix was going to reunite with director M. Night Shyamalan for a mystery film that is going to start filming in Pennsylvania next month. This was to have been their third film working together, after Signs and The Village, back in the early 2000s. Although we don’t know exactly why, this week, we learned that the deal for Joaquin Phoenix eventually fell apart, and he is now being replaced. (This was actually the second reason Phoenix made the news this week, with the first being the various “Hurricane Joaquin” memes). The actor now in talks to replace Joaquin Phoenix is James McAvoy, AKA the young Professor Xavier of the recent X-Men films. And we still don’t know anything else about the film, except that the budget is reportedly being kept relatively low (something like the $5 million of The Visit). Whether that’s also part of why Joaquin Phoenix dropped out is also unknown.
If you looked at your Facebook/Twitter/etc. this week, there’s a good chance you saw at least a few posts about author George R.R. Martin announcing a Game of Thrones big screen movie. Some of the original sources have already gone offline, but you can find a nice summary of them right here. Basically, the quotes (which claimed to be from George R.R. Martin) said that there will be a HBO Game of Thrones movie, but without Martin’s involvement. There was also a statement that some of the movie would be set in the past. We’re not getting into too many details, because George R.R. Martin quickly debunked the entire story. Replying in a comment on his own LiveJournal, addressed a question about a “Robert’s Rebellion” movie by saying, “Yes, completely false. No one is working on any movie just now. And if there was a movie, it would not be about Robert’s Rebellion.”
Next month will mark the eighth anniversary of the release of Disney’s family comedy Enchanted, about a fairy tale princess (Amy Adams) who finds herself in the “real world.” Despite that film’s $340 box office earnings, the sequel has not yet happened as quickly as one might have expected. Following recent disappointments with non-Marvel/Lucasfilm live action films like John Carter, Tomorrowland, and the decision to cancel a third TRON movie, Disney’s focus seems to be on live action movies closer to their “animation remakes.” The sequel to Enchanted fits right in with those films, and so that’s probably we’re hearing this week that Disney is still committed to making that film happen. This news also comes with a new title for the sequel, which is now being called Disenchanted. Not much else is known (including how many, if any, of the first film’s stars will return), except that Disenchanted will be directed by Anne Fletcher (The Proposal, Hot Pursuit). Unfortunately, Anne Fletcher’s filmography as director is 100 percent Rotten.
Soon after the successful release of Furious 7, Universal Pictures enlisted star Vin Diesel to help announce a release date of April 14, 2017 for the eighth movie in the franchise. That’s a release date that is now just over 18 months away, and the sequel still doesn’t have a director yet, which was behind a few different news stories this week (and also last week, starting with this piece). First, Vin Diesel appeared to be recruiting fan support online for the notion that the director of the very first Fast and the Furious movie, Rob Cohen, should return for #8. The next day, Vin Diesel posted a lengthy story to his Facebook account, which included this statement, “I will share something crazy that my mother said six months ago after the studio had me announce the date for 8 to the world… “ Either you direct 8 yourself… or don’t do it.” Vin Diesel made his feature film directorial debut with the 1997 independent film Strays. Following that post, there was a report that Universal wasn’t “happy with Diesel’s post, or the notion that he might direct. ‘It is never going to happen,’ says the insider.” We’re calling all of this a “Rotten Idea” in total, because of the implied impact it might have on us getting another great Fast and Furious movie anytime soon, following positive reactions to Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.
Director John Ford’s 1962 western/frontier drama The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was named #47 on the BBC’s list of the 100 Greatest American Films, along with other placements on various “best of all time” film lists. The film is also Certified Fresh with a Tomatometer score of 93 percent. So, in Hollywood’s fine tradition of not letting great old films remain untarnished, the news broke this week that Paramount Pictures is developing a remake of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. John Wayne and James Stewart starred in the drama as a cowboy and a small town frontier lawyer who team up to take down an outlaw named Liberty Valance (played by Lee Marvin). (John Wayne calling Stewart “Pilgrim” also became one of his most iconic film scenes.) Part of the allure of the original film was that Wayne and Stewart were two of Hollywood’s biggest stars, so one might presume that Paramount might attempt similar casting with two of today’s stars. For example, Tom Cruise has a long history of working with Paramount, and Tom Hanks is often compared to Jimmy Stewart. However, the studio has not yet made any such announcements (this article has other ideas about possible remake stars). Rather than being a Western, the remake may have a more contemporary setting, with the steel towns of Western Pennsylvania in the 1980s given as one example.