This week’s Ketchup includes new movies based upon Japanese imports Godzilla and Shogun Warriors, new roles for Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio, and new movies for the directors of Wanted and Kick-Ass.
For many movie fans, even 12 years later, the 1998 blockbuster-sized disaster that was Godzilla still stings. With a massive budget and marketing, a Hollywood version of Godzilla had a lot of promise, but the movie mostly failed because the monster didn’t seem to Godzilla fans to actually be, you know… Godzilla. Now, Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures (Watchmen, The Dark Knight, Clash of the Titans) have announced that they are collaborating with Toho on an American relaunch of the giant lizard character for an intended release in 2012. The director hasn’t been announced yet, but that news should be the next announcement. There’s also no word yet about a screenwriter. Here’s part of what Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull said in the press release, “Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has.” Back when Sony made their movie in the 1990s, the hope was that Godzilla would be followed by Hollywood movies starring other Toho kaiju monsters like Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah. Might the new Godzilla lead to a new wave of giant monster movies? Perhaps, as our next news story is quite related to the news of Godzilla getting revived…
Way before Transformers became a popular toy in the 1980s, if you were a kid in the late 1970s, one of the toys that every boy wanted was one of the Shogun Warriors. Also popularized by a Marvel Comics series, the Shogun Warriors were massive robot-shaped mech suits with a human pilot in the head, complete with swords and armature patterned after Japanese samurai warriors. Now, there is news that Matthew Gratzner, a visual effects designer responsible for work on movies like Iron Man, The Dark Knight and Superman Returns is producing via his New Deal Studios a feature film called Gaiking (Gaiking being one of the Shogun Warriors). Gaiking was also the title of a 1970s animated TV show that was a tie-in to the Shogun Warriors toy line. The AICN story has lots of details about the project, including a teaser trailer that shows off what Gaiking will look like. Rather than being an entirely CGI project, the Shogun Warriors will be realized using “life size” models. Since they stand a few hundred feet tall, I would expect what that actually means is that the models will be man-sized, not skyscraper-sized. Work on Gaiking began when it was expected to be included in the new Heavy Metal film that David Fincher and James Cameron are working on, but now it’s going to be a feature film of its own. Famed comics painter Alex Ross has also been mentoring the project, and TOEI Studios is also backing the film project. New Deal Studios is hoping to finish the film in time for a 2012 release, which is especially interesting considering that Warner Bros is also targetting Godzilla for a 2012 release, and back in the 1970s, Godzilla was actually part of the Shogun Warriors toy line.
Angelina Jolie is reportedly indeed interested in starring as Sleeping Beauty‘s evil godmother in Maleficent. The movie is described as a Wicked-style villain centric movie that sees the events of Sleeping Beauty from Maleficent’s perspective. Disney’s continued interest in the project was seen as a reaction to the success of Alice in Wonderland. The involvement of Tim Burton, that movie’s director, is vague, although he is expected to at least produce, even if he doesn’t direct Maleficent. Another Alice in Wonderland connection is screenwriter Linda Woolverton, whose credits for Disney also include Beauty and the Beast and cowriting Mulan and The Lion King. Angelina Jolie has been making the casting news rounds quite a bit in recent weeks as she looks for her next film after this summer’s Salt and The Tourist, costarring Johnny Depp (a frequent Tim Burton star). Perhaps it was Depp who suggested to Jolie that she sign on for the one Tim Burton movie that probably doesn’t have an obvious starring role for him?
The week after Chris Evans signed to star in The First Avenger: Captain America, the next casting announcement possibly explains why there were so many young actors that didn’t really seem like “Steve Rogers” types were included in the process. That is because one of them, Sebastian Stan (Gossip Girl), has instead been cast as Bucky, Cap’s young sidekick, which suggests that Marvel may have been considering actors for both Cap and Bucky at the same time. In addition to The First Avenger: Captain America, Sebastian Stan’s deal to play Bucky actually covers at least five movies, which suggests that Bucky may have a role in the Marvel movie universe beyond just being Cap’s World War II sidekick (as he eventually did in the comics as the Winter Soldier, and beyond that even).
Leonardo DiCaprio is reportedly in talks to star in Hoover, the “epic” biopic that Clint Eastwood (Mystic River, Gran Torino) will direct for Warner Bros. Hoover is the story of J. Edgar Hoover, the controversial government agent who was the first director of the FBI (a job he held onto for 37 years). Hoover’s legacy includes the 1930s gangster wars, extensive investigations into celebrity political activities and reports that he was a closeted homosexual and transvestite. Hoover was written by Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Milk, which was also a biopic about a gay political figure. Hoover will be the first time that Leonardo DiCaprio has worked with Clint Eastwood, and another director that he appears likely to be working with for the first time is Oliver Stone. Oliver Stone is in talks to direct Travis McGee, the adaptation of the detective novel The Deep Blue Good-By that DiCaprio is already attached to star in for 20th Century Fox. The movie is named after the “salvage consultant” character (McGee recovers property for a fee) created by John D. MacDonald, who went on to star in 21 of the author’s books.
Perhaps because Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is in the public domain, Frankenstein’s Monster is continuing to be a character at the center of planned new movies. There’s Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein (the monster as a genius with super powers), I, Frankenstein (the monster protecting humanity from other monsters) and a planned remake of The Monster Squad. Frankenstein is also of course one of Universal’s “classic monsters,” and that studio has a project with Guillermo del Toro, but with The Hobbit eating up most of his time for the next few years, that project is unlikely to begin anytime soon. And now, a fifth project has emerged, with director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Night Watch) attached to an adaptation of the novel The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd. This project is being adapted by screenwriter David Auburn (The Lake House; cowriter of Proof), and is being shopped around to studios with Bekmambetov attached. Told from the perspective of Dr. Frankenstein, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein is the story of how the friendship between Frankenstein and Percy Bysshe Shelley leads to his experiments on bringing life to the dead. The project seems to have similarities to recent horror/literature mash ups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, but played less for ironic laughs and more for dramatic weight.
First off, this story should be noted as being a rumor at this point. However, the source site (IESB) has a history of displaying an inside source at 20th Century Fox, so that’s what nudges this story a little closer to possibly being valid. What IESB is reporting is that Fox has “locked” Will Smith into starring in not just a sequel to their 1996 space invasion hit Independence Day but for a third film as well, with both movies expected to be filmed back to back. Director Roland Emmerich is also reportedly expected to return, with these ID4 sequels to be his next project after he wraps up his Shakespeare thriller Anonymous. This is one of this week’s “Rotten Ideas” because Independence Day seems like a film for which the time for a sequel has long since come and gone. Fox has been talking about a sequel pretty much since the weekend Independence Day opened, but with the movie now 14 years old, the timeliness seems to have long since worn out on this project.
Oh, 1990s superhero comic books, you were all kinds of crappy. Even as the comic book industry was experiencing massive sales as new fans tried to get into the “comic book collecting” business, the market was flooded with new characters that were perceived as being highly derivative of more popular characters. One of those characters was Bloodshot, one of Valiant Comics’ best selling titles, which was about a mob assassin whose body is experimented upon, erasing his memory and giving him enhanced healing, strength and reflexes. The only thing they left out was an adamantium skeleton, claws, mutton chops and a Canadian accent. Anyway, Matthew Vaughn, the director of Kick-Ass and Stardust apparently doesn’t agree with me because he’s reportedly looking to make a Bloodshot movie next, with casting to be done this summer. Vaughn is self-financing Bloodshot and is cowriting the screenplay with Jane Goldman, whom he collaborated with on both Stardust and Kick-Ass. Bloodshot is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because there are plenty of awesome comic books out there waiting to be adapted without ever touching upon titles that came out of that particular era and trend.
Just a couple of weeks after the announcement that Jennifer Lopez will be starring in a remake of Overboard, Anna Faris is now attached to star in another Goldie Hawn comedy remake. Private Benjamin was a big hit in 1980, and was about a spoiled woman who joins the Army after being convinced by her recruitment officer that boot camp isn’t be as harsh as it ends up being. Private Benjamin was made back in a time when comedies were actually still eligible for Academy Awards, and it did receive three nominations (actress for Hawn, supporting actress for Eileen Brennan and best original screenplay). The Private Benjamin remake is being developed by New Line Cinema, which is also working on remakes of Police Academy and National Lampoon’s Vacation. This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because this writer thinks that Private Benjamin doesn’t have the same cultural significance thirty years later as it did in 1980, when the idea of female soldiers was still relatively recent. Also, the original movie is still quite funny and doesn’t really need to be remade. Meanwhile, another Anna Faris comedy, What’s Your Number? got more casting news this week, as Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live) and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) are in talks to costar as two boyfriends that Faris’ character revisits “in her quest to find love.”
Heidi Montag has been the star of MTV “reality” series The Hills for six years, but is now looking to continue her career after the show is over. Montag’s plan is to produce a 3D beach comedy that she also wrote, taking inspiration from having worked with Ron Howard on a short film for FunnyorDie.com, and from her time playing a minor character in next year’s Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Montag will star in the 3D beach comedy as a “lifeguard named Summer.” The untitled comedy’s story involves a shark attack on a small beach town, and how Montag’s character saves “the day with my 3-D boobs.” Montag has also written a role as the town’s mayor for Dolly Parton to play. If I have to say why any of that is a “Rotten Idea,” just unplug your computer and go watch a marathon of The Hills. You’ll be much happier than reading my column. In similar news, Paramount hired screenwriters this week for the studio’s planned movie version of the TV show Baywatch. Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka got the Baywatch job based upon their script The Sitter, which Jonah Hill is attached to star in for Fox. Paramount sees Baywatch as having “female driven action” like Charlie’s Angels. The studio is aiming to get Baywatch in theaters by next summer, 2011.