This week, Hollywood really took some time off from making announcements in the days in between Christmas and New Year’s. So, it’s time for the obligatory Yearly Ketchup; twelve major stories that broke this year, one for each month. This doesn’t necessarily cover all of the big stories that broke this year, as some months were bigger than others. An emphasis was made in this particular list to focus on either new projects, or ones that got new life after years of development. And finally, in addition to the potential big blockbuster type movies, I made room for the new projects for a couple of major directors, as well as a couple of projects that some will definitely think are “Rotten Ideas.” These are the news stories that made the Weekly Ketchup all the more fun to follow along with each month.
Warner Bros announced that the studio is in early development of a reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, based upon the popular Eidos video game franchise, and a big part of what made Angelina Jolie the star she is today. The reboot is expected to revamp the character, and “bear little resemblance to the original pictures,” which means that a new actress will be cast as Lara Croft. Since the announcement, little has been said about the Tomb Raider reboot, but that may be partly because WB-based producer Dan Lin has a particularly busy plate that includes dozens of WB’s most anticipated projects.
While Marvel continues with their ambitious plans for the next few years, Warner Bros and DC Comics made their own big news this year with the green light for Green Lantern, based on the popular intergalactic space cop with the incredible power ring. The first big news this year for the project was the hiring of director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), and that was later followed by the casting of Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, with the actor also signed this year to star in a Deadpool movie. The original release date for Green Lantern was to be in late 2010, but that has since moved to sometime in the summer of 2011. In related DC Comics news, Warner Bros is expected to announce their full plans for their DC Comics slate in January, 2010 (or so). Those plans will probably include news of other DC superheroes, especially other members of the Justice League, in the hopes that the member heroes can get their own movies in preparation for eventually teaming up together in a team movie, similar to the 2012 Marvel plans for The Avengers.
Joel and Ethan Coen announced this year that their next movie after A Serious Man will be an adaptation of True Grit for Paramount. This will be based on the the novel by Charles Portis that was previously adapted as the 1969 Western that earned John Wayne his Academy Award. The Coens’ version, however, promises to be closer to the original book, and will focus more on the 14-year-old girl at the heart of the story. Since the announcement, there has been a good deal of True Grit news, including the casting of Jeff Bridges (in the John Wayne role), Matt Damon and Josh Brolin, and the currently ongoing open casting call to find the young actress who will have the starring role. The Coen Bros have an incredible track record, but the idea of them remaking a classic Western in particular has movie fans excited.
At the annual ShoWest convention in Las Vegas, Sony announced that the third movies in both the Men in Black and Ghostbusters franchises were gearing up for releases in 2011. In the following months, both movies received regular updates. Men in Black 3 will see the return of Will Smith and director Barry Sonnenfeld, with Josh Brolin in talks to costar as a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K (that Smith’s Agent J meets via time travel). Director Harold Ramis revealed just this week that he plans on filming Ghostbusters 3 this summer, with the original guys returning to help introduce some new “young” Ghostbusters (and there’s also a rumor out there that Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman will be a ghost himself this time).
Fran Rubel Kuzui, the director of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film is working on bringing the heroine back in a rebooted movie. Joss Whedon later adapted his original movie screenplay into a much more popular TV show but won’t be involved in Kuzui’s reboot at all. The movie also won’t include any of the supporting characters created for the TV show, which includes many fan favorites, such as Angel, Willow, Spike and Xander. When it was announced, the producers were just starting to meet with writers to hear their takes on ideas for the reboot, but the central idea was to build upon the notion that each generation has its own vampire slayer, and that they were aiming for a “darker, event-sized movie.” There’s been little news about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot since, but given the massive fandom of the TV show, this is obviously something people will be following for years.
Coming off the success of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, director David Fincher’s next project is The Social Network, a comedic biopic for Columbia Pictures about the founding of the popular social website Facebook, from a script by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing). The setting of the movie will be the Harvard campus in 2004 when a sophomore created Facebook, which went on to become an Internet “juggernaut” with over 200 million members. Since the movie’s first announcement, filming started in October, with the ensemble cast including Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, supported by Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones, Max Minghella and many more.
Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures announced plans for a movie based on the popular MMORPG game World of Warcraft in 2006, but it wasn’t until this year that the project got its most exciting announcement in the form of director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man, Drag Me to Hell). Raimi is currently in pre-production on Spider-Man 4, but the director hopes to start filming of World of Warcraft when that movie wraps, with development of the script by Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot) continuing in the meantime. World of Warcraft is a Blizzard videogame set in the fantastic world of Azeroth. There, two factions (the Alliance and the Horde) find themselves on opposite sides of a series of epic conflicts, with the latest one being against the Lich King, the corrupted son of one of Lordaeron’s greatest former kings. The actual plot of the World of Warcraft movie hasn’t been announced yet, but there are certainly lots of possibilities, as the game has a massive background lore that fills up one of the most active Wiki-style sites on the web.
This was a big year for director Bryan Singer, as he signed on to both Jack the Giant Killer at New Line (a modernization of the classic fairy tale) and X-Men: First Class, which will likely his next project after Jack the Giant Killer. As big as his return to the X-Men franchise was, however, the most discussed new project for Singer this year was probably his (long term) plans to adapt the popular TV show franchise Battlestar Galactica for the big screen. Battlestar Galactica has had two very different lives as a TV show, first as a relatively lighthearted 1970s show and then in the 2000s as a very serious, more dramatic take. Singer’s movie is at least three years from happening, but it’s obvious that the 2009 parallel is J.J. Abrams’ reboot of Star Trek, as this project will bring a popular TV sci-fi franchise to both the big screen and possibly a whole new audience. Singer’s plans to make a Battlestar Galactica movie go way back, to 2001, which was at the time sidetracked by the Sci-Fi Channel’s plans to revive the series.
September saw the announcement from Universal that the studio had acquired the rights from Mattel to their iconic Barbie doll franchise, to be adapted as a live action movie. There has already been a direct-to-DVD animated Barbie movie, but the aspirations of a live-action movie are obviously much bigger. Barbie has had many careers over her 50 years as arguably the most popular girl toy, including being a pilot, teacher and even an astronaut. Big movie news tends to be dominated by boy-friendly titles, but if there is one franchise that is the total opposite, it is Barbie.
A few months after the release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, director Michael Bay made the inevitable announcement that development had started on Transformers 3, starting with a five-hour meeting with ILM in San Francisco, followed by a meeting with writer Ehren Kruger. This news came after a flurry of quotes from Megan Fox about her involvement with the second movie, and so Bay included in his statement the sentiment that she would be welcome back for the third movie, and that “I promise no alien robots will harm you in any way during the production of this motion picture.” Bay is also wasting little time in getting Transformers 3 started, announcing a release date of July 1st, 2011.
In addition to the Star Trek prequel that was announced even before the film was released, J.J. Abrams also revealed his plans to produce a movie based upon the popular 1970s-1980s line of Japanese Micronauts toys. The toys were known for their interchangeable parts, and for a mythology about being aliens and robots who arrive on Earth to find that they are much smaller than everyone else here. Although the toys were also a hit in the United States, Micronauts is also memorable for starring in their own Marvel Comics title, which is where much of the background story comes from. With Star Trek 2 likely to start filming earlier rather than later, it’s unclear exactly when Micronauts will be produced, but given that there is not yet a screenwriter attached to the project, it will probably still be a few years off.
Last year, Peter Jackson’s plans on making his sci-fi debut got sidetracked when the HALO movie got shelved. But Jackson is not yet giving up on the genre, and plans for a secret project called Mortal Engines have been revealed to a newspaper in his hometown. Based upon a series of novels by Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines is set in a post-apocalyptic world where cities have become giant vehicles that must go to war with each other in order for their populations to survive. Weta Workshops is reportedly already at work on designs for the giant cities. Jackson has not yet made an official announcement about Mortal Engines, but it is likely that we will learn more in 2010.