Hollywood’s weekly news cycles have been very slow through most of August, and the buzz only got quieter this week before the Labor Day weekend. Things are so slow, that it was even difficult for this writer to figure out which story deserves to be the Top Story. There were only a total of 14 news stories (at all) to choose from for the week’s Top 10, which meant that a story had to be really obscure not to be included. This week’s hum drum announcements include new projects for Josh Brolin, Anne Hathaway, Ed Helms, Dwayne Johnson, Taylor Lautner, Zoe Saldana and director Martin Scorsese.
This Week’s Top Story
ANNE HATHAWAY AND HUGH JACKMAN TAKE THEIR MUSICAL ACT TO THE MOVIES: LES MISERABLES
Ever since their duet at the Oscars in 2009, there has been speculation about whether Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman will ever do a movie musical together. This week, that question was answered with the news that Anne Hathaway is set to join the cast of Les Miserables as Fantine, the doomed mother of Cosette. Les Miserables is of course an adaptation of the stage musical set during the French Revolution, based upon the novel by Victor Hugo. Director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, The Damned United) is lining up a star studded cast that is rumored to include Russell Crowe (replacing the earlier reported Paul Bettany) as Inspector Javert, and Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers. Geoffrey Rush previously played Javert in the 1998 film Les Miserables which also costarred Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes. The casting of Cosette and Eponine is the next step, with Miranda Cosgrove (Nickelodeon’s iCarly), Lucy Hale (NBC’s Bionic Woman), Hayden Panettiere (NBC’s Heroes) and Emma Watson (Hermione of the Harry Potter films) being considered for either role. Filming of Les Miserables is expected to start in February, 2012 in England before Hugh Jackman proceeds to Canada for filming of The Wolverine. Les Miserables is a coproduction between Universal Pictures and Working Title Films.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 MARTIN SCORSESE REMAKING A MOVIE THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH KENNY ROGERS
Director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter William Monahan (Body of Lies, Kingdom of Heaven) previously worked together on 2006’s The Departed. This week, both Scorsese and Monahan signed with Paramount Pictures to develop a remake of the 1974 James Caan addiction drama The Gambler, which was itself based upon a short novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The Gambler told the story of a college professor struggling with an addiction to gambling on basketball scores. That movie, by the way, should not be confused with the series of TV movies starring Kenny Rogers that started in 1980. Paramount hopes that frequent Scorsese collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio will star, but negotiations with DiCaprio haven’t yet started. This week, William Monahan was also revealed to be working with Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez on the script for Sin City 2.
#2 SPIKE LEE HAS TRAPPED JOSH BROLIN IN HIS REMAKE OF OLDBOY
Josh Brolin has signed with Mandate Pictures (Whip It, The Switch, Drag Me to Hell) to star in the English language remake of Park Chan-wook’s Korean action thriller Oldboy, which will be directed by Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Inside Man). Josh Brolin will play a man who is kidnapped and kept hostage for 15 years until he is finally released and sets out to take his revenge. The screenplay was adapted by Mark Protosevich, whose past work includes Poseidon and cowriting duties on I Am Legend. Back when Steven Spielberg was attached to direct this remake a few years ago, Will Smith was to have been the star.
#3 SCOTT PILGRIM AND BRIDESMAIDS COSTARS STEP UP FOR PITCH PERFECT LEAD ROLES
Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson are young actresses currently best known for supporting roles in Twilight, Up in the Air, Scott Pilgrim Vs the World, and Bridesmaids. Anna Kendrick was in those first three films, and Rebel Wilson played Kristen Wiig’s British roommate in the last. Kendrick and Wilson are now signed with Universal Pictures to costar in the romantic comedy Pitch Perfect, set in the world of college a capella singing groups. Kendrick will be playing a rebellious goth girl who surprisingly becomes the singing group’s secret weapon in competitions. Since Pitch Perfect is also described as a romantic comedy, she presumably falls in love with someone too. Director Jason Moore, who directed the stage musical Avenue Q as well as episodes of Dawson’s Creek, Everwood and Brothers & Sisters, will be making his feature film debut with Pitch Perfect. Filming of Pitch Perfect is scheduled to start this fall in New Orleans.
#4 ED HELMS TO STAR IN REMAKE OF FRENCH COMEDY LE MAC
Ed Helms, one of the Wolf Pack stars from The Hangover, has signed to star in the English language remake of the 2010 French comedy Le Mac, which will presumably have a different title (The Mac, perhaps?). Jose Garcia starred in Le Mac in the dual roles of a banker and the criminal mastermind pimp who is secretly his long lost twin brother (who the banker must impersonate to help the police with a case). The adaptation is being written by newcomer screenwriter Johnny Rosenthal. This remake is being produced by Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films production company, which most recently produced 30 Minutes or Less in addition to several of Stiller’s past films (Zoolander, Tropic Thunder, etc). This remake is a borderline Fresh Development mostly because not enough is yet known to really damn it with a Rotten Idea label.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#5 ZOE SALDANA SAYS SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY… DOMINION
Avatar and Star Trek star Zoe Saldana marked the first week of release for her new action film Colombiana by signing with Paramount Pictures to star in a supernatural thriller called Dominion. Although the premise is mostly being kept secret for now, what is known is that Zoe Saldana will play a woman who is half human and half angel. Saldana will also produce Dominion, which is based on a spec pitch by newcomer screenwriters Dean McCreary and Chester Hastings, who cowrote the short film Fanboy featuring Sam Raimi and J.K. Simmons as themselves. Dominion is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas mostly because of its status as yet another movie about angels.
#4 NEW SCREENWRITER SNIKTS HIS PENS INTO THE WOLVERINE
The filming schedule for The Wolverine has reportedly been pushed back until the spring of 2012 (after Hugh Jackman wraps filming of Les Miserables). This change now allows time for a rewrite of the original script by Christopher McQuarrie (Valkyrie, The Usual Suspects). The new screenwriter will be Mark Bomback, who previously wrote Unstoppable, cowrote Live Free or Die Hard and Race to Witch Mountain and also has the Total Recall remake coming soon. The new script is expected to still be set in Japan, and feature a supporting cast of mostly Japanese or Japanese American actors except for the character of Viper, who’s described as a secretary for Japan’s Minister of Justice. In the comics, Viper (AKA Madame Hydra) is a long running villain for the Avengers who also blackmailed Wolverine into marrying her. The Wolverine will be directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, Knight and Day) in 2012 with filming expected to be mostly done in Vancouver with some filming also in Tokyo. The Wolverine has been a Rotten Idea pretty much since Darren Aronofsky left the project, and the contributions from one of the Live Free or Die Hard writers does little to change that.
#3 NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM DIRECTOR RESURRECTS FRANKENSTEIN FOR 20TH CENTURY FOX
Following delays for the studio’s planned remake of Fantastic Voyage, 20th Century Fox has signed director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Date Night, Real Steel) for their entry in Hollywood’s race to see who can get a new Frankenstein movie made first. Fox’s Frankenstein is being written by Max Landis (John Landis’ son), who has a few other projects in the works but has not yet had a feature film produced and released. Landis’ script is described as being a “sci fi take” on Mary Shelley’s novel which “focuses on themes of friendship and redemption.” The other Frankenstein projects that Fox’s version is competing with include Guillermo del Toro’s long gestating project at Universal, Sony’s contemporary version, adaptations of The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein and Wake the Dead, starring Haley Joel Osment (which currently seems likely to be the first movie actually filmed and produced). This is one of the Rotten Ideas this week because Frankenstein and Night at the Museum really don’t belong in the same sentence together.
#2 WILL SHARK BOY AND THE ROCK BE DAVID AND GOLIATH?
The success and ongoing cult popularity of The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl and Twilight continue to buoy the career of Taylor Lautner. Taylor Lautner and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are reportedly in negotiations to star in the ancient Hebrew war epic Goliath based upon the Biblical tale of the future King David (Lautner) and his struggles with the philistine warrior Goliath (Johnson). Director Scott Derrickson (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) signed on earlier this year to helm Goliath, which is being produced by two of the people behind The Twilight Saga. Lautner stands at a height of 5′ 10″, which makes him seem tall in comparison to most of his costars, but Dwayne Johnson will appropriately tower over Lautner too at a height of 6′ 5″. Although Johnson might indeed make a pretty great Goliath, the idea of Shark Boy playing the young King David earns this story its Rotten Idea tag.
#1 DIE HARD 5 WILL BE A SEQUEL DIRECTED BY A REMAKE SPECIALIST
20th Century Fox continued to keep the 5th entry in the Die Hard franchise on the fast track this week with the hiring of the film’s director. Irish director John Moore has made all of his movies to date for the studio, with an emphasis on remakes (The Omen, Flight of the Phoenix) that also included the video game adaptation Max Payne. Die Hard 5 will mostly be filmed in Russia, with Fox hoping that it can be wrapped before Bruce Willis moves on to star in the planned sequel to last year’s Red. Die Hard 5 is described as a father-son action adventure, and was written by screenwriter Skip Woods, who wrote the video game adaptation Hitman, as well as Swordfish, and shared cowriting duties on The A-Team and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. John Moore’s RT Tomatometer record is what earns Die Hard 5 its Most Rotten Idea of the Week status, though the idea of that limping franchise getting a fifth movie was most likely enough by itself.
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.