This week’s Ketchup covers seven days of film development, which this week included the first three days of the Cannes Film Festival, which every year is the source for many such movie news stories. Included in the mix this week are stories about such movies as The New Mutants, Underworld 5, a remake of The Craft, a new Fugitive, and new roles for Tom Hanks, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, and Charlize Theron.
This story’s headline was a tricky one to compose, because really, we wanted to sell it as if Charlize Theron really needs anyone’s help to become an action movie star. This is, however, also the day that Mad Max: Fury Road, is opening with a Certified Fresh 99% Tomatometer rating, with much praise indeed going directly to Ms. Theron herself. Of course, Keanu Reeves had been in several pretty good action movies too, and yet, John Wick was still celebrated as his “return.” Anyway, yes, Charlize Theron and co-directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski will be teaming up for their follow-up to John Wick, which will be called The Coldest City. Charlize Theron will be playing a super spy who has an adventure following the assassination of an underground British agent just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Filming is scheduled to start in October in Germany. Leitch and Stahelski are expected to follow The Coldest City with both John Wick 2 and the comic book adaptation Bloodshot.
It’s been known for a while that 20th Century Fox has had plans for spinoffs of their successful X-Men franchise, including solo movies for Deadpool (2/12/16) and Gambit (10/7/16), and talk of an X-Force team movie. This week, the news broke that one of the potentially most promising spinoffs will indeed be the long-rumored title The New Mutants, which 20th Century Fox has hired director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) to co-write and direct. In a few ways, The New Mutants might be the most appropriate property 20th Century Fox could have chosen, as like the planned movie, it was itself Marvel’s first (of many that followed) X-Team spinoff series when it launched in 1982. With The New Mutants, the focus was less on students that moonlighted as superheroes, and more on characters who really were students first and foremost but whose mutant natures also frequently forced them into having adventures, teen romances, and journeys of self-discovery. For the most part, the core team of The New Mutants has not really been featured in Fox’s movies previously, which may have been a clue all along that the studio was planning on someday making the movie. Of course, the question that still lingers is exactly what relationship The New Mutants will have to Fox’s plans for an X-Force movie, since in the comics, the original X-Force team actually grew out of The New Mutants (which suggests that the X-Force movie might indeed be a sequel to The New Mutants).
Normally, you would think that this particular story would have been picked up by the nerdosphere and become one of the most popular stories in your Facebook feed, but for whatever reason, it sort of fell through the cracks. Well, that’s why the world has the Weekly Ketchup: to pick up those little overlooked stories, dust them off, and let them fly away again into the collective ether. The movie we’re talking about is Colossal, which will feature Anne Hathaway as a woman who moves back home after losing her job and fiance in New York City, only to find that as “a giant lizard is destroying the city of Tokyo, Gloria gradually comes to realize that she is strangely connected to these far-off events via the power of her mind.” Colossal will be directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) from his own script, and is being compared (for obvious reasons) to such movies as Godzilla, Adaptation, and Being John Malkovich. It’s not yet known if the Kaiju monster in Colossal will be realized using computer animation or a more classic “man-in-rubber-suit” technology.
One of this young year’s best reviewed genre movies has been Ex Machina (Certified Fresh 91%), and this week, the film’s star landed another lead role. Alicia Vikander will star in The Circle, along with Tom Hanks, as a “a recent college graduate who gets a job at a powerful tech company called The Circle. While there, she strikes up a relationship with the company’s charismatic co-founder.” The Circle is an adaptation of the 2013 novel by Dave Eggers (Away We Go). Tom Hanks also starred in the adaptation of Eggers’ book A Hologram for the King, which Lionsgate acquired the rights to this week at Cannes. The Circle will be directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now), whose next film The End of the Tour premiered at Sundance this year, and is scheduled for release on July 31, 2015.
Following a bidding war with other production companies, DreamWorks has won the rights to a science fiction comedy pitch called Alpha Squad Seven. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is attached to co-produce and star (along with another lead) in the secretive comedy, which is reportedly set in space, drawing comparisons to Armageddon, Independence Day, and Guardians of the Galaxy (because publicists never use unsuccessful movies as examples of what their movie’s like). Alpha Squad Seven was pitched by the screenwriting team of Jeremiah Friedman and Nick Palmer, who don’t yet have a produced film to their credit, but have worked in the past on the sequel to the remake of The Karate Kid (the one that was actually about kung fu).
If you grew up in the 1980s, you’ve probably gotten used to Hollywood remaking some of your favorite movies since, well, the late 1990s or so. This is apparently something that surprises and/or shocks younger fans who grew up in the 1990s, though, as the Twitterverse demonstrated this week when Sony Pictures announced it had begun development on a remake of The Craft. Director Leigh Janiak, who made her feature film debut last year with the horror film Honeymoon (70% Fresh), has been hired to direct from a script that she will cowrite with her Honeymoon cowriter Phil Graziadei. We’re calling this news a borderline Rotten Idea, not specifically because of anything directly related to the Tomatometer, but because maybe the Twitterverse does have a point. The Craft is still out there, waiting to be enjoyed by generations to come (just like most movies that get remade by Hollywood).
Here at the Weekly Ketchup, we are big fans of tropes (well, really I’m one guy, but “we” sounds better), like one known as the Sequel Gap. A sequel gap occurs when a sequel is finally produced and released after a longer than average period of time. The three years each between Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron and Taken 2 and 3 were sort of optimal, but the 11 years in between the two SpongeBob SquarePants movies? That was quite a Sequel Gap. When Shanghai Noon (79% Fresh) and its sequel Shanghai Knights (66% Fresh) were released in 2000 and 2003, they were received positively for what they were: lighthearted action-comedy romps that mixed the Wild West and kung fu. But that was over 12 years ago, and Jackie Chan is 61 years old now. Regardless, MGM has announced plans to finally move ahead with a third movie in the franchise, to be called Shanghai Dawn. No other details are available yet, except that MGM is seeking a screenwriter, and hopes to release Shanghai Dawn sometime in 2017.
Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara, who will be costarring together later this year as Blackbeard and Tiger Lily in Pan, are now signed to costar in another movie. Hugh Jackman will star in Collateral Beauty as an advertising agent who experiences a tragedy that sends him into a state of depression. Collateral Beauty will be directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) from an original screenplay by screenwriter Allan Loeb. Although Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a critical hit at Sundance this year, we’re calling this one a “Rotten Idea” based on screenwriter Allan Loeb’s streak of “Rotten” Tomatometer ratings, which is currently eight in a row, including recent misfires like Rock of Ages, Here Comes the Boom, and 2012’s So Undercover, starring Miley Cyrus.
Although she did skip the third movie (for the obvious reason that Underworld: Rise of the Lycans was a prequel), Kate Beckinsale did reprise her role as Selene in the fourth movie in the Underworld franchise, 2012’s Underworld: Awakening. And this week, we learned that Screen Gems and Sony Pictures are moving forward with plans for a fifth Underworld movie with Beckinsale returning once again. Theo James, who also starred in Underworld: Awakening will also reprise his character in this fifth movie. This fifth installment will mark the feature film directorial debut of Anna Foerster, who has worn a few different hats on other movies, including working as Roland Emmerich’s cinematographer on Anonymous and White House Down. We should note that this being a “Rotten Idea” really has nothing to do with Kate Beckinsale herself. No, this is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas because none of the previous Underworld movies ever scored higher than 31% on the Tomatometer.
A growing trend within Hollywood’s film development movers and shakers is the regurgitation and/or revisitation of Harrison Ford’s earlier film career. Ford himself will revisit his roles for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Blade Runner 2 (presumably Deckard is who Ford’s playing, at least), and there’s recently been talk about Chris Pratt taking over the Indiana Jones franchise. We can now add The Fugitive (which was itself an adaptation of a popular 1960s TV series) to the mix, as Warner Bros has put a new Fugitive movie into development. There’s still a lot that we don’t know, however, such as whether the new movie will be a remake or a sequel. Whatever it is, Warner Bros has hired not-yet-produced screenwriter Christina Hodson to work on the screenplay. Although the 1993 movie starring Harrison Ford is Certified Fresh at 93%, the 1997 attempt to spinoff the franchise focusing on Tommy Lee Jones’ character, U.S. Marshals, is decidedly not, with a Rotten score of just 27%.