This Week’s Ketchup includes lots of news for DC Comics movies (Justice League, Green Lantern and the casting of Lois Lane), new movies for Jennifer Garner, Bill Murray, Hailee Steinfeld and the penguins from Madagascar.
This Week’s Top Story
THIS WEEK IN DC COMICS NEWS: JUSTICE LEAGUE 2013, AND AMY ADAMS AS LOIS LANE
This week gave us big news stories for three different DC Comics movies. The biggest story of the week was the revelation from Warner Bros’ new studio boss Jeff Robinov that the studio plans on releasing a live action Justice League movie in 2013. Back in 2007/2008, the studio was nearing production of a Justice League movie that would have been directed by George Miller (Mad Max, Happy Feet), but it was shelved because of the WGA strike. Warner Bros’ plans for Justice League appear to include at least five of DC Comics’ most popular superheroes: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash. It’s not yet known if other Justice League members like Green Arrow, The Atom, Aquaman, Hawkman and Martian Manhunter might also be included. Justice League is being seen as a potential launching pad movie for The Flash and Wonder Woman movies of their own. But the Justice League movie will not connect directly to Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, or Zack Snyder’s Superman movie coming in late 2012. For Justice League, a new Batman and Superman will be introduced. What is not yet known is whether this will also apply to Green Lantern, or whether Ryan Reynolds might reprise his role in Justice League as well. Speaking of Green Lantern, we learned this week that Michael Clarke Duncan will be providing the voice of the gargantuan Lantern Kilowog, and that Geoffrey Rush will be voicing the bird-like Lantern Tomar-Re. When it comes to DC Comics movie casting, I am burying the lead, because Amy Adams has been cast to play Lois Lane in the tentatively titled Superman: Man of Steel.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 HARRY POTTER TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL
J.K. Rowling may have closed the books on Harry Potter, but Warner Bros may not have. Although the studio has adapted Rowling’s seven books into eight movies, with every book, there was much that had to be left out to fit the 4,100 pages of stories to feature length. So, the studio is considering returning to Hogwart’s in a few years (with a new batch of kid actors) to adapt the remaining story elements that were skipped the first time around. The hope is that most of the adult actors will be able to return to reprise their roles. The plan, however, is not to make seven (or eight) more movies, but to condense two or three novels at a time, resulting in a new trilogy of Harry Potter movies. Because the last four novels were the ones that had the most unadapted material, the first film will be called Harry Potter: Years One, Two and Three. The new child actors will be cast to slightly older than Harry Potter is at the beginning, and CGI effects will be used to make them appear younger in the first half of the movie. The three new films will nearly be “sports movies” as it was often the details of Quidditch that were left out of the films.
#2 BILL MURRAY’S LATEST CHARACTER IS FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT IN HYDE PARK ON THE HUDSON
Over the course of his career, Bill Murray has created some of the most memorable screen characters in movies like Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, Ed Wood and Lost in Translation. However, Murray has spent the last several years mostly doing animated voice work (the two Garfield movies and Fantastic Mr. Fox), working with director Wes Anderson, and making cameo appearances (Zombieland). This week brought the news of a new role that will see Bill Murray portraying one of the most recognizable historical figures of the 20th Century, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (AKA FDR) in the British production Hyde Park on the Hudson. The Focus Features production will tell the true story of FDR’s semi-incestuous love affair with his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley, set during the June 1939 weekend during which King George VI (the lead character in The King’s Speech) and Elizabeth become the first British royals to ever visit the United States. Hyde Park on the Hudson will be directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Morning Glory) from a script by newcomer Richard Nelson, adapting his own 2009 BBC radio play, aired to celebrate the visit’s 70th anniversary. Filming on Hyde Park on the Hudson is scheduled to start in July, 2011. There’s no word yet as to whether Colin Firth or Helena Bonham Carter might reprise their roles in The King’s Speech as King George and Queen Elizabeth.
#3 ALAN MOORE FINALLY GETS HIS SAY IN THE MOVIES WITH MIRACLEMAN
British comic book writer (and eccentric) Alan Moore has long been outspoken about the way that his comics have been adapted to film, such as From Hell, V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Watchmen. Moore will finally get his chance to see one of his earliest works brought to the movies the way he wants. Alan Moore is reportedly considering making the move to being a film director and screenwriter with Miracleman, an adaptation of the early 1980s dark comic book series about a family of superheroes similar to Captain Marvel. The move mirrors the transition that his 1980s “grim and gritty” contemporary Frank Miller made by codirecting Sin City and directing The Spirit. The Miracleman comics are historically significant for the level of graphic violence, gore and social commentary that Moore brought to the superhero genre. Miracleman will be an independent British production, and there is no word yet on who Moore hopes to cast as the key characters of Miracleman and his arch-nemesis Dr. Gargunza.
#4 CAN SIR IAN MCKELLEN BRING US PEACE FOR OUR TIME?
The success of The King’s Speech has proven that there is still an audience hungry for biopics about significant British historical figures. So, the latest project to be discussed is Peace For Our Time, about British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain was Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940 and is most famous (or notorious) for his 1938 signing of the Munich Agreement, which conceded possession of the Sudetenland region of Czechslovakia to Nazi Germany. Chamberlain’s famous quote from that period was that he felt the agreement would result in “peace for our time.” That proved a diplomatic mistake when a year later Germany proceeded with an invasion of Poland, which led to Great Britain declaring war on Germany. There’s no word yet on who will direct Peace For Our Time, but the producers have already begun negotiations with Sir Ian McKellen to play Neville Chamberlain. Peace For Our Time is expected to be nominated in multiple Academy Award categories for whatever year it is eventually released in. It is, after all, a British historical biopic.
#5 TRUE GRIT STAR HAILEE STEINFELD JOINS THE FAIRY TALE CRAZE WITH SLEEPING BEAUTY
The success of Alice in Wonderland last year started a gold rush of sorts that has resulted in over a dozen movies nearing production based on similar stories, most of which are public domain fairy tales like Snow White and Hansel and Gretel. One of Disney’s top priorities in this category is Maleficent, which will turn the focus on the studio’s 1959 animated classic’s evil villainess, with Tim Burton possibly directing, and Angelina Jolie sought to star. Disney now has competition, however, as a new Sleeping Beauty spec package is going to auction at the studios this week. This new adaptation of the 1697 French fairy tale by Charles Perrault is also revisionist (written by newcomer Lindsay Devlin), and True Grit star Hailee Steinfeld is already attached to star as Princess Aurora. The biggest difference in this version will be a focus on Aurora herself, as she finds herself trapped in a dream world from which she must try to escape. Although the Sleeping Beauty package has not been sold yet, the studio that is probably the most likely to pick it up is Paramount Pictures. Paramount distributed True Grit, and has already cast Steinfeld in the teen suspense thriller Forgotten, as the studio sees the young actress as a rising star they want to continue doing business with.
#6 PEOPLE CAN NEVER GET ENOUGH ANIMATED PENGUINS
The last six years have been a very good time for penguins at the movies, even though most of them weren’t even real. In 2005, the documentary March of the Penguins was a surprise box office hit, and that year also saw the release of DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar, in which a group of zoo penguins were supporting characters. DreamWorks also released the 12 minute short The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper later that year both in theaters and on DVD. Warner Bros released Happy Feet in 2006 (and Happy Feet 2 comes out 11/18/11), and 2007 saw the release of both Surf’s Up and the direct-to-video Face of the Penguins. The Madagascar penguins were featured even more prominently in 2008’s Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and they will also return in Madagascar 3 in June, 2012. The DreamWorks’ characters are also a hit on TV, with the Nickelodeon series The Penguins of Madagascar now in its second season. All of that set up leads us to the unsurprising news that DreamWorks Animation has started development on a Penguins of Madagascar feature film about the paramilitary penguins Skipper, Kowalski, Private and Rico. There’s no director or release date set yet for this Madagascar spin-off. Screenwriters Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons, who previously worked together on DreamWorks’ Megamind, have been hired to start working on the Penguins of Madagascar feature length script.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS GET THEIR OWN MOVIE, BUT THE WASHINGTON GENERALS DO NOT
The Harlem Globetrotters exhibition and comedic basketball team were a pop culture phenomenon in the 1970s, including two Saturday morning cartoons, a variety TV show and various guest appearances. Now, the team’s managers are talking to Warner Bros about how to revive the team’s popularity, inspired partly by the reception given to team members Flight Time and Big Easy on two recent seasons of The Amazing Race. The Globetrotters actually met with most of the Hollywood studios, but the reason that Warner Bros was quickest to jump at the opportunity is that three franchises most associated with The Harlem Globetrotters are all Warner Bros properties, and all three are in a position to be revived. The first movie will be a CGI/live action remake of Scooby-Doo Meets The Harlem Globetrotters, which will reboot the Scooby-Doo movie franchise, including new actors to play Shaggy, Velma, Fred and Daphne. That film is expected to be the first of a trilogy which (if successful) will be followed by adaptations of The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island and Scooby-Doo Meets Batman, featuring a version of the Caped Crusader that pays homage to the 1960s Adam West TV series.
#2 LITTLE MISS MUFFET GETS THE RED RIDING HOOD TREATMENT
As Hollywood continues its love affair with adapting fairy tales (which are also public domain) into live action movies, the latest target for adaptation is one of the most famous: Little Miss Muffet. Summit Entertainment has begun talks about how best to adapt the 28-word rhyme into a feature film that can appeal to the young audience that are fans of their Twilight Saga movies. The movie is expected to start by exploring the lingering questions that Little Miss Muffet leaves us with. Where did Miss Muffet get her curds and whey? Why was she so frightened of spiders? What the %*#@ is a tuffet anyway? The actual encounter with the spider will come midway in the movie, as we are introduced to teen Prince Arachnos, who was cursed with having to live half of his life in spider form. After initially being revulsed by his condition, Miss Muffett eventually falls in love with the spider, but their new romance comes with a price, as her father threatens to deprive Miss Muffet from ever eating curds and whey again, leaving her with a very difficult choice. Summit is hoping to cast Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Prince Arachnos, but the casting of Miss Muffet is still ongoing.
#1 38-YEAR-OLD JENNIFER GARNER MAKING ELDERLY DETECTIVE MISS MARPLE YOUNG AND HIP?
This week obviously ended with April 1st, and we all know what that means. So, when this story hit the news cycle, it seemed like someone had jumped the gun. But nope, this story is 100% real. Walt Disney Pictures has acquired the rights to the elderly detective character Miss Marple, who appeared in twelve novels by Agatha Christie from 1930 to 1976, and was one of Christie’s most famous characters. Disney’s plan is to both modernize Miss Marple (moving the setting to the modern day), and make her much younger. Jennifer Garner, who is currently 38 years old, will play the much young Miss Marple, and Garner is also producing. As Agatha Christie wrote her, Miss Marple was an elderly spinster living in a tiny English village. Several Miss Marple novels have previously been adapted to film, including 1980’s The Mirror Crack’d, in which she was played by Angela Lansbury, who went on a few years later to star in Murder, She Wrote, playing the very similar (but Americanized) character of Jessica Fletcher. As if this story isn’t already strange enough, the writer that Disney has hired to reinvision Miss Marple is Mark Frost, who is most famous for being David Lynch’s cocreator of the bizarre early 1990s ABC TV show Twin Peaks. Mark Frost also cowrote Fantastic Four and its sequel. There’s no word yet which specific Agatha Christie novel will be adapted (or if a specific one will be adapted at all). This is usually the part where I would explain why a movie is the week’s Most Rotten Idea, but I think pretty much this entire story does that job for me quite nicely.
One more thing about Harry Potter, Miracleman, Peace for Our Time, The Harlem Globetrotters, and Little Miss Muffet… April Fool’s!
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.