This was a relatively slow week in the realm of movie development news, as most sites were busy covering the various awards season nominations, or providing links to any of the various trailers that will be in theaters this weekend with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. What did get announced this week includes sequels for The Adventures of Tintin, Alice in Wonderland, The Muppets, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Transformers, new movie adaptations of Angry Birds and The Equalizer, and new roles for Glenn Close, Will Ferrell, Nick Nolte, and Michael Shannon.
This Week’s Top Story
DISNEY PLANS RETURN TRIP FOR ALICE IN WONDERLAND
The billion dollar success of 2010’s Alice in Wonderland has inspired Walt Disney Pictures to greenlight a series of live action movies based on classic fantasy stories that includes 2013’s Oz the Great and the Powerful, 2014’s Maleficent (based on Sleeping Beauty), and probably for 2015, a new version of Cinderella. This week, the news broke that Disney is also planning a much more direct answer to the success of that film, in the form of an Alice in Wonderland sequel. To that end, Disney has hired that film’s screenwriter Linda Woolverton (who also worked on Maleficent). What isn’t known is anything else, including a premise, or whether Tim Burton will be returning to fill the director’s chair.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 PETER JACKSON’S TINTIN SEQUEL STILL ON TRACK FOR 2015 RELEASE
In the past year since the release in 2011 of The Adventures of Tintin, pretty much all of the movie development news relating to director Peter Jackson has been about The Hobbit, and in particular, the move to expand that adaptation from two movies to three. The notion that Jackson was also planning on directing a Tintin sequel (after Steven Spielberg directed the first) has seemingly almost been forgotten. Well, not so fast, as Jackson confirmed this week that he plans on doing the stop motion filming on the second film in 2013, so that it can still make the planned 2015 release window. This filming of the second Adventures of Tintin film joins the estimated 6 to 8 weeks of additional filming that Jackson is also planning on doing in 2013 for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. The 2015 release target for the second Tintin film also means that for the first time ever, there will be four movies directed by Peter Jackson in as many consecutive years. There’s still no word on who might direct the third planned Tintin movie.
#2 THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE TO BE SLINGSHOTTED INTO THEATERS IN THE SUMMER OF 2016
We’re not even out of 2012 yet, and movies are already being scheduled for the summer of 2016. Producer John Cohen (Despicable Me) is teaming up with Rovio Entertainment for the 3D CGI animated adaptation of the hit mobile video game franchise Angry Birds. The game, which just this week celebrated its third anniversary, tells the epic story of a bunch of birds that are propelled via slingshots at pigs sitting on crudely erected structures. That pretty much nails what Angry Birds is about, except for the “epic” and “story” parts. John Cohen previously collaborated with Illumination Entertainment for Despicable Me, but it’s not yet known what animation studio will be working on the Angry Birds movie, or what studio might be distributing.
#3 DRIVE DIRECTOR NICOLAS WINDING REFN TO ESCORT THE EQUALIZER
Sony Pictures has had an adaptation of the 1980s TV series The Equalizer on their schedule for April 11th, 2014 for a while now, with Denzel Washington attached to star, but until now, it hasn’t seemed to make much of an impact with fans online. The anticipation level for The Equalizer may have cranked up considerably as of this week’s news that Nicolas Winding Refn has signed on. The Danish director is still hardly a household name in the USA, but his 2011 film Drive was very well received by critics, and well regarded by many moviegoers (those who weren’t expecting it to be a Fast and the Furious clone, anyway). The late Edward Woodward starred in the original CBS TV series as a retired intelligence officer who offers his services to those in need by way of an anonymous advertisement in the newspaper.
#4 TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY SEQUEL IN THE WORKS
The British 2011 espionage thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy probably isn’t remembered by most as one of that year’s big box office successes, but with only a $21 million budget, its $80 million worldwide gross was a nice ROI regardless. And so, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson (who also directed Let the Right One In) is now working with screenwriter Peter Straughan on a sequel to that adaptation of the novel by John Le Carre. That’s what was confirmed this week by producer Eric Fellner, but what’s currently not verified is what exactly the sequel will be adapting (if any specific novel at all). Gary Oldman did say earlier this year that a sequel based on the novel Smiley’s People was being considered, although that’s hardly a firm confirmation. If the sequel does end up being Smiley’s People, then it would be about Oldman’s character having to come out of retirement following the death of one of his agents, a covert Soviet general. The confusing element about all of this is that Smiley’s People was actually the third novel of a trilogy, with the second of Le Carre’s Smiley novels being The Honorable Schoolboy.
#5 TY BURRELL FROM MODERN FAMILY IS THE NEW LEAD IN THE NEXT MUPPETS MOVIE
“Ty Burrell has replaced Christoph Waltz” is a phrase that will almost certainly never be used in any movie news story ever again. The movie in question is Disney’s follow up to 2011’s The Muppets, and the role is that of an Interpol agent following the Muppets around as they travel through Europe as part of a caper storyline. Anyone who watches Modern Family knows that Burrell is an odd choice to play an Interpol agent, but given that this is a Muppets movie… that’s probably the point (and may actually be why Christoph Waltz is being replaced). James Bobin, who directed The Muppets, is returning for this currently untitled sequel as well, which Disney currently has scheduled for release on December 20, 2013.
#6 SAMANTHA MORTON AND MICHAEL SHANNON TEND THE HARVEST FOR THE DIRECTOR OF WILD THINGS
It’s been so long now that it might be hard to put it within context, but there was a time in the 1990s when John McNaughton was considered one of the hot young rising star directors of the time, with a career that began in 1990 with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and included 1998’s Wild Things. McNaughton has still been getting work, mostly on cable TV, but it’s with a new independently produced movie called The Harvest that his career finally appears likely to be returning to the big screen. Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire) and Samantha Morton (Minority Report) will star in the psychological thriller as a married couple who keep their ill son secluded, until the arrival of a new neighbor in the form of a young girl “unravels the overprotective parents’ strictly regulated world.”
#7 KEVIN HART TO HELP WILL FERRELL GET HARD
Comic actors Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart (Think Like a Man) are attached to star in the comedy Get Hard, which Warner Bros is currently in negotations to produce and distribute. If production moves forward, Ferrell will star as an investment banker sentenced to serve at a maximum security prison who recruits his car washer (Hart) to get him physically and mentally prepared. If Warner Bros picks up the pitch, Get Hard will be written by the screenwriting team of Ian Roberts and Jay Martel, who are executive producers of the Comedy Central sketch program Key & Peele.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 NICK NOLTE AND GLENN CLOSE TO STAR IN THE ALZHEIMER’S DRAMA ALWAYS ON MY MIND
This article was an example of one where this writer had to check facts before presuming he knew of a movie that Nick Nolte and Glenn Close starred in together before. Glenn Close isn’t Barbra Streisand (The Prince of Tides), Susan Sarandon (Lorenzo’s Oil), or Jessica Lange (Cape Fear), and Nick Nolte, well, there’s really no one that you could confuse Nick Nolte with (though I did consider that maybe he was in The Big Chill). The movie that will finally be bringing these actors together is called Always on My Mind, and it is the story of an aging rock star (Nolte) coping with Alzheimer’s, with his wife left to “pick up the pieces of his hard-lived rock n’ roll life.” The reason that Always on My Mind is one of the Rotten Ideas this week is that it’s the next movie from writer/director Chris D’Arienzo, who created the Broadway musical Rock of Ages, and cowrote the recent movie adaptation of that play, which has a “Rotten” RT Tomatometer score of 41%.
#1 MORE CASTING NEWS FOR TRANSFORMERS 4 MEANS IT’S STILL HAPPENING
Unless the Mayans were right, the world is going to go on, and there’s still going to be Transformers movies directed by Michael Bay. Earlier this year, Mark Wahlberg was confirmed as being the new lead actor of Transformers 4, and now, we have learned that Wahlberg’s teenage daughter will be played by Nicola Peltz (The Last Airbender), and her “biker boyfriend” will be played by Brenton Thwaites (Blue Lagoon: The Awakening). Or, maybe the world will explode before I finish typ
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.