This week’s Ketchup includes news of several CGI animated movies (Angry Birds, Hotel Transylvania and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2), as well as new roles for two of the stars of Bridesmaids and Super 8 (in the same movie).
This Week’s Top Story
THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE TO BE SLINGSHOT INTO A THEATER NEAR YOU
There has been rumblings that video game company Rovio had plans for a movie adaptation of their mobile phone hit Angry Birds since last summer. This week, Rovio got a bit closer to seeing that actually happen with the hiring of David Maisel, who was partly responsible for helping Marvel become its own movie studio. Rovio’s plan for David Maisel is for him to oversee the formation of an entire entertainment franchise based on the Angry Birds concept, including toys, more games and a franchise of Angry Birds feature films. For those not familiar, the premise of Angry Birds is that some evil pigs have kidnapped the eggs of the birds, and so they are angry, and need to be slingshot at the pigs’ structures, freeing the eggs and killing the pigs. So, basically, imagine that as a CGI animated movie, and that’s what Rovio wants to bring to your local cineplex. Angry Birds is this week’s Top Story basically because… there wasn’t much else to choose from. People do seem to love Angry Birds, so there is that. The next step for Angry Birds is most likely finding a screenwriter and/or a director. Knowing how Hollywood works, it will probably be someone who isn’t among those who contributed to the game’s 250 million downloads.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 CLOUDIER WITH A HIGHER CHANCE OF MEATBALLS
Former Freaks and Geeks star John Francis Daley (he played Sam Weir, the ensemble show’s narrative focus) is making his screenwriting debut this weekend with Horrible Bosses, which he cowrote with Jonathan Goldstein and Michael Markowitz. As Hollywood studios often do, Sony Pictures Animation took advantage of that film’s release to announce their own project with two of those writers. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein have been hired to start writing a sequel to the 2009 CGI animated comedy Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, which was based upon a children’s book by Ron and Judi Barrett. Although the Barretts did in fact write a sequel book called Pickles to Pittsburgh, this movie sequel will reportedly be based instead upon an original idea. In the original film, an inventor in the town of Swallow Falls inadvertently causes food to start falling from the sky instead of rain, hail and snow. The sequel will presumably feature either yet another downpour of consumables, or a similar such mishap (like maybe rivers or volcanos of beverages?). Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who directed Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs are not expected to return for the sequel, and Sony is currently looking for their replacement(s).
#2 TWO BRIDESMAIDS AND SUPER 8 COSTARS JOIN THE KNOCKED UP SPINOFF
Bridesmaids and Super 8 share the distinction of being two of the rare summer, 2011 hits that weren’t sequels or adaptations. In Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy (from TV’s Mike and Molly) was an obvious stand out, and the same can be said of Ryan Lee, who played explosives-obsessed Cary in Super 8. Now, Melissa McCarthy and Ryan Lee have something else in common, as they have been cast by Judd Apatow as mother and son in his follow up to Knocked Up. Possibly titled This is Forty, the officially untitled (for now) comedy will tell a new story about the married couple that Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann played in Knocked Up. Judd Apatow is directing the comedy, which will be his first movie as director since Funny People, and only his fourth film as director, although he’s produced many more movies. Melissa McCarthy also joins her Bridesmaids costar Chris O’Dowd (he played the highway patrolman), and Albert Brooks and Megan Fox have also already been cast in supporting roles.
#3 CHRISTOPHER WALKEN IS ONE OF THE GODS BEHAVING BADLY
HBO just recently confirmed development of a series based Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and now a very similar independent comedy is also being produced, based on the Marie Phillips novel Gods Behaving Badly. Alicia Silverstone and Ebon Moss-Bachrach (The Lake House) will play a couple who discover a dysfunctional family of down-on-their-luck deities squabbling and fighting and trying to figure out how to function in a time when they’re no longer quite as powerful as they once were. And that leads us to the all-star cast, which includes Christopher Walken as Zeus, Edie Falco as Artemis, Rosie Perez as Persephone, Oliver Platt as Apollo, Sharon Stone as Aphrodite and John Turturro as Hades. Independent producer Marc Turtletaub (Little Miss Sunshine, Away We Go) is making his feature directorial debut with Gods Behaving Badly from a script by newcomer screenwriter Josh Goldfaden. Filming is already expected to start soon in New York, starting in mid-July, 2011.
#4 JONAH HILL AND MARK WAHLBERG BUDDY UP FOR GOOD TIME GANG
Mark Wahlberg scored a mid-size hit last summer with the buddy cop movie The Other Guys. Jonah Hill produced, cowrote and is starring in the upcoming movie version of 21 Jump Street, in which he will be a buddy cop with Channing Tatum. This week, Jonah Hill and Mark Wahlberg were announced as teaming up in Good Time Gang, in which they will play buddy mercenaries (not cops), in what is described as a spin on Lethal Weapon. The premise is described as being about “party-happy mercenaries who decide to take on a more serious case involving a terrorist, only to find their mission complicated when they discover one of them is related to the target.” Good Time Gang was written by Max Landis (son of John Landis), who recently also was hired by 20th Century Fox to work on one of the many Frankenstein adaptations in development.
#5 ROSALINE AND GUILDENSTERN AREN’T DEAD
In April, it was announced that True Grit star Hailee Steinfeld’s next role would be as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. That Shakespeare adaptation starts filming soon, with British teen ator Douglas Booth playing Romeo, Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) as Benvolio, Ed Westwick (Gossip Girl) as Tybalt and Holly Hunter as Juliet’s Nurse. Now, Fox 2000 is moving forward with plans with their own Romeo and Juliet adaptation, which also follows Fox’s 1996 film William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. This movie, however, has a twist, as it will be called Rosaline, and will focus on Romeo’s ex-girlfriend, who sees the events of the tragic romance quite differently. In William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo does talk about Rosaline, but she never actually appears in the play. Rosaline will be set in 16th century Verona, and as the premise suggests, it will be a comedy. Screenwriter Michael Sucsy, who cowrote the HBO movie Grey Gardens and next year’s The Vow (starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum), has been hired to work on Rosaline. Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, the writing team behind (500) Days of Summer, had previously been hired to work on Rosaline, but it’s unknown whether Sucsy will be doing a rewrite or starting from scratch.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 ADAM SANDLER IS THE LATEST ACTOR TO TAKE ON DRACULA IN HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA
If you took a Family Feud-style poll and asked 100 movie goers to name who they would cast as Dracula, I have a feeling Adam Sandler wouldn’t even make the big board. As you already know by this story’s title, they would, of course, be wrong. Sony Pictures Animation has lined up the voice cast for the upcoming 3D CGI animated comedy Hotel Transylvania, which is scheduled for release on September 21, 2012. Hotel Transylvania will be about a resort for monsters who want to escape the world of humans. Adam Sandler will play Dracula as an “overprotective dad who introduces his teenage daughter Mavis to the world’s most famous monsters.” Kevin James will voice Frankenstein’s Monster (though Sony just calls him “Frankenstein”… sigh), Fran Drescher will voice the Bride of Frankenstein, David Spade will pay Quasimodo and Cee Lo Green will play the Mummy. Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon will play the parents of a family of werewolves, and Andy Samberg will play a non-monstrous human who causes problems for the Hotel. It’s worth noting that although this cast of characters seems a lot like Universal’s Monsters, Sony doesn’t actually have the rights to those characters, although the source materials are mostly all in the public domain. It’s the same sort of tricky grey area that allowed The Monster Squad to get made. Hotel Transylvania is being directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, the Russian-American animation creator behind such TV shows as Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars. Hotel Transylvania will be the big screen debut of screenwriter David I. Stern (who previously wrote Open Season 2 and Open Season 3) and the brother team of Dan and Kevin Hageman. Hotel Transylvania is a borderline Rotten Idea, based mostly on the RT Tomatometer track record of much of the cast. The direction by Genndy Tartakovsky, and his TV show record, is what makes it borderline.
#3 YET ANOTHER VAMPIRE MOVIE: UNDYING LOVE
The vampire sub-genre of horror is obviously not exactly new to Hollywood, but we are nonetheless in the midst of a wave of vampire movies, thanks more than partly to the popularity of The Twilight Saga. The latest addition to Hollywood’s lengthy list of vampire movies in development is Undying Love, based upon a comic book mini-series published by Image Comics. Warner Bros has acquired the rights to Undying Love, along with Benderspink, the production company behind The Ring, The Butterfly Effect and the sequels to those two films. Described as blending vampires, Chinese monster myths and Hong Kong-style action, Undying LoveUndying Love script will be adapted by the comic book’s cocreators, Daniel Freedman and Tomm Coker, who also cowrote and codirected the 2007 direct-to-video horror film Catacombs, starring Pink.
#2 LIKE THE TITLE CHARACTER, THE OLDBOY REMAKE REFUSES TO CURL UP AND DIE
There’s a long tradition of American remakes of Asian films, but as with any potential remakes, sometimes the source material seems too good to warrant a remake. Many movie fans consider the 2003 Korean thriller Oldboy, directed by Park Chan-Wook, to be such a film. When Will Smith and Steven Spielberg talked about remaking Oldboy back in 2008, those fans freaked out quite a bit, even with a filmmaker like Spielberg involved. Three years have now passed, and now the remake project appears to be getting new life with the word that Spike Lee (Malcolm X, Bamboozled) is reportedly in talks to direct the Oldboy remake. There’s no word if Will Smith is still interested in starring. For those unfamiliar with Oldboy, it told the story of a man who, after being imprisoned for 15 years and suddenly released, goes on a revenge spree in an attempt to understand why he was imprisoned. The Oldboy remake has been written (for a while now, presumably) by Mark Protosevich (Thor, I Am Legend). In other Spike Lee news (which is also Rotten), the director spoke recently about his attempts to get a sequel to Inside Man made, with the general gist being that it’s unlikely ever to happen.
#1 SPACE INVADERS TO INVADE SPACIOUS MOVIE THEATER SCREENS
In early 2010, the news broke that the video game company Taito was in negotiations with Warner Bros about turning Space Invaders into a big budget movie. With over a year passing, and no further news about such a project being heard, it seemed like maybe that was one of those Rotten Ideas that was rightfully abandoned at some stage. This week, we found out that, yes, the negotiations at Warner Bros fell apart, but instead, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and production company Odd Lot Entertainment (The Spirit, Drive) have picked up the rights to Space Invaders, the movie. Lorenzo di Bonaventura’s credits include the Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises, as well as another video game adaptation with no inherent narrative structure, Asteroids. For those unfamiliar with Space Invaders, back in 1978, it was one of the very first arcade video game hits, as the player controlled a missile on the bottom of the screen, shooting at an array of aliens as they slowly (and then not so slowly) descended down the screen. That’s all there is to the game (well, that and an UFO that goes across the screen sometimes). The producers are now looking for a screenwriter who can come up with all the other little stuff, like characters, and a story to explain the cannon and the aliens. Or maybe, there won’t even be that.
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.