This week’s Ketchup covers a four day week that should have been slower than it was, being post-Labor Day and all. Included in the mix are new developments for directors Steven Spielberg and Mel Gibson (yes, really), and new roles for Josh Brolin, Brendan Fraser, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Chris Tucker (yes, really on him too), Kate Winslet and… Charlie Sheen (!).
This Week’s Top Story
SOMEONE AT WARNER BROS. HAS SAID THE NAME BEETLEJUICE THREE TIMES
David Katzenberg (Jeffrey’s son) and Seth Grahame-Smith (author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) have set up their new production company KatzSmith Productions at Warner Bros in a two year deal that includes a sequel to Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. The intention is to reboot the Beetlejuice brand name by advancing the story started by the 1988 supernatural comedy starring Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis and Michael Keaton as the titular ghost who hires himself out to spirits looking to rid their homes of the living. The KatzSmith deal grew out of the screenwriting work Seth Grahame-Smith recently did for Warner Bros on Tim Burton’s movie version of the vampire soap opera Dark Shadows, starring Johnny Depp. The deal is for two movies, one of which is expected to be the Beetlejuice sequel. Other projects that may be included in the deal are We Three Kings (an adaptation of Grahame-Smith’s next revisionist novel about what the Three Wise Men were really up to), Bryantology (about a man who invents a religion based around himself as a tax loophole) and Night of the Living, a stop-motion comedy about a town of monsters who find themselves besieged by an invasion of human beings.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 EVEN IF WE ALL SURVIVE THE MAYAN APOCALYPSE, ROBOPOCALYPSE WILL GET US THE FOLLOWING SUMMER
DreamWorks, Disney and 20th Century Fox have agreed to partner up on Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Daniel H. Wilson novel Robopocalypse. The ambitious science fiction epic will be Steven Spielberg’s first return to the genre since 2005’s War of the Worlds (or 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, depending upon how you categorize that film). 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks will split financing, with Disney handling domestic distribution and Fox handling international distribution. Robopocalypse tells the story of how the human race in the near future deals with a robot uprising after becoming reliant upon the benefits of robotics. Steven Spielberg is expected to start filming Robopocalypse in early 2012 after wrapping up his long-planned Abraham Lincoln biopic starring Daniel Day-Lewis. The three studios have already chosen a release date of July 3, 2013, which currently puts Robopocalypse on the same date as Universal’s Despicable Me 2 and just five days after Universal’s R.I.P.D., starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges.
#2 JOSH BROLIN TO CELEBRATE LABOR DAY AT KATE WINSLET’S HOUSE
Paramount Pictures announced today plans to coproduce and distribute Labor Day, a new film from director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You for Smoking). Adapted by Reitman from a novel by Joyce Maynard, Labor Day is about an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) who hides out in the home of a single mother (Kate Winslet) and her young son over the course of a long Labor Day weekend. Labor Day will be the third collaboration between Reitman (as director) and Paramount, following 2009’s Up in the Air and this December’s Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron. There’s no announced release date for Labor Day yet, but sometime in late August or early September of 2012 would seem like the likeliest target date.
#3 ANTHONY HOPKINS SWITCHES SIDES IN THE SERIAL KILLER THRILLER SOLACE
Sir Anthony Hopkins, who remains best known for his portrayals of the cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter is in final negotiations with New Line Cinema to play another doctor in a serial killer thriller called Solace. This time, however, Hopkins’ character will be called Dr. John Clancy, and he will be a clairvoyant (someone who can see the future) who assists the police in their efforts to catch a serial killer. Solace was first announced back in 2008, when it was expected to be directed by Mark Pellington (Arlington Road, The Mothman Prophecies), who has since left the project. The latest writer to work on Solace (after a few other rewrites) is Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen, Hereafter), who also wrote the Ron Howard-directed Formula 1 racing biopic Rush, nearing production soon. Now that New Line has an Oscar winner attached to star, the next step is to find a director to replace Mark Pellington.
#4 JULIANNE MOORE IS HOT FOR THE ENGLISH TEACHER
Julianne Moore and Greg Kinnear have signed to star in the independent comedy The English Teacher. Moore will play a high school English teacher whose life is impacted when one of her former students returns home after failing to make it as a playwright in New York City. The English Teacher will be the feature film debut of director Craig Zisk, who has directed episodes of dozens of TV shows, including multiple episodes of Alias, Charmed, Nip/Tuck, Nurse Jackie, Scrubs, The United States of Tara, and Weeds. Filming of The English Teacher starts in October in New York City, and will be Julianne Moore’s first film after recently wrapping up her role as former local TV sports reporter Sarah Palin in the HBO movie Game Change.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#5 ABIGAIL BRESLIN AND OTHER FORMER CHILD ACTORS GET SEXY IN A VIRGIN MARY
It’s a fact of life that nearly every child star eventually grows up (unless, for example, they starred in Poltergeist). What they do next is what separates the Jodie Fosters and Ryan Goslings of the world from, say, the Corey Haims and Corey Feldmans. Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine and Zombieland is still only 15, but her next movie can be seen as potentially integral to how she bridges that transition. Breslin has signed to star in the independent teen sex comedy A Virgin Mary as a teenager who makes an agreement with her best (male) friend to have sex if they’re still virgins when they turn 18. Breslin’s costars will include former child actors Carter Jenkins (one of the remake Bad News Bears, who is 20 and plays the best friend), Daryl Sabara from the Spy Kids movies, and Keke Palmer, the star of Akeelah and the Bee. A Virgin Mary will be written and directed by Beth Schacter, whose also wrote and directed 2007’s Normal Adolescent Behavior, which starred Amber Tamblyn in what was arguably a similar case of stunt casting. A Virgin Mary is a borderline Rotten Idea based mostly on what appears to be the movie’s stunt casting (Daryl Sabara… really?).
#4 CHRIS TUCKER FINALLY ENDING HIS BOYCOTT AGAINST MOVIES THAT DON’T HAVE RUSH HOUR IN THE TITLE
In the last 13 years, comedian-turned-actor Chris Tucker has starred in exactly three (non-documentary) movies, and their titles all started with the words Rush Hour. Last December, there was news of a movie called The Rabbit that could still yet be Chris Tucker’s first post-Rush Hour starring role, but this week brought news of two potential supporting roles for the Rush Hour star. First up is The Silver Linings Playbook, which will be directed by David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees, Spanking the Monkey), and will star Bradley Cooper as a man recently released from a mental institution who tries to reconcile with his wife. Chris Tucker is in talks to play one of Cooper’s friends in the institution, and Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro are also already signed to costar. The other movie Chris Tucker is in talks to costar in is Neighborhood Watch, joining Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill as a group of neighborhood guys who concoct a neighborhood watch as an excuse to get more time to hang out together (until things get serious, and they have to actually do the job). Neighborhood Watch is being directed by former Saturday Night Live writer Akiva Schaffer, who made his feature directorial debut with 2007’s Hot Rod.
#3 A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLIE SHEEN
There was a time in the 1980s when Charlie Sheen was legitimately considered one of the hottest young film stars, working at the same time as the “Brat Pack,” but not really included as one of their members. Sheen’s 1980s filmography includes either the lead or major roles in Red Dawn, Platoon, Wall Street, Young Guns and Major League. He kept making movies in the 1990s, but eventually transitioned to television by replacing Michael J. Fox in Spin City, and then obviously, he spent much of the late 2000s as the star of Two and a Half Men; you may have heard a little something about that last show. Anyway, Charlie Sheen is now trying to get back into the movie business. In addition to a cameo role in the independent ensemble comedy She Wants Me (which was filmed in late 2010 and is still seeking distribution), Charlie Sheen has also signed on for his first post-Two and a Half Men movie role. A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charlie Swan III will be the second film for director Roman Coppola after 2001’s CQ. Sheen’s role is said to mirror his current situation, as he will play a “famous graphic designer whose life takes a nosedive after his girlfriend leaves him.” Jason Schwartzman, who is Roman Coppola’s cousin, also has an unknown role (possibly as the titular character of Charlie Swan III). AGITMOCSI is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas because… yeah, maybe some things are better left unexplained.
#2 WILLIAM TELL: 3D BECAUSE WE NEED TO SEE THAT ARROW COMING FOR… OUR FACE!
Brendan Fraser and Eric Brevig, the director of Journey to the Center of the Earth (and Yogi Bear) will reunite for William Tell: 3D, a new historical action film based upon one of Switzerland’s most (only?) famous folk heroes. Or, as the press release puts it, they “are reuniting for the untold story of the legend that is William Tell – noble farmer, quick-witted family man, cunning hero, scruffy outlaw – in 3D.” They sort of had this writer along for the ride until they tacked on that 3D part at the end. Fraser will portray William Tell as a man who finds himself and his family embroiled in the 14th century political power plays between his homeland of Switzerland and Austria, culminating in a challenge to shoot an apple off the head of his son (“…and then he swears revenge.” Of course, he does). William Tell 3D (formerly known as William Tell: The Legend) has had at least four screenwriters to date, including Chad and Evan Law, who worked on the direct-to-video Cuba Gooding Jr. movies Hero Wanted and The Hit List, and Scott Reynolds, whose direct-to-video credits include The Ugly and When Strangers Appear. Executive producer Pierre Spengler can claim credits for the first three Superman movies, but the most recognizable entries in his more recent filmography are two of the direct-to-video Pumpkinhead movies.
#1 THE JUDAH MACCABEE BIOPIC: THAT MEL GIBSON, WHAT A MENSCH!
The little paragraphs that Weekly Ketchup uses to cover the 10 top movie development stories for each week really aren’t enough space to get into the back story for this one. Let’s just say, Mel Gibson and people of the Jewish faith… there’s a history there. Anyway, so Mel Gibson wants to get back to making movies. Whether it’s as a director, a producer or even just a screenwriter, he clearly wants that. And in the past, he’s done some great stuff. This week, Gibson and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct, Showgirls; he’s also taken a long sabbatical away from Hollywood) signed a deal with Warner Bros to adapt an ancient historical war epic. Described that way, this story could go either way, but here’s the real story: The project that Warner Bros is developing with Gibson and Eszterhas is Gibson’s long talked about historical war epic about Hebrew freedom fighter Judah Maccabee. What became known as the Maccabean Revolt eventually gave the world the Jewish feast/holiday that we now know as Hanukkah. As the deal currently stands, Mel Gibson will produce, collaborate on the script with Eszterhas, and have the first option on the potential directing job if it ever actually gets made. The story of Judah Maccabee is undeniably potentially a great concept for a big budget ancient historical swords-and-sandals epic. But… Mel Gibson? Yeah, that’s the Rotten Idea part. But, admittedly, this is not necessarily a pre-destined horrible movie; it’s just that the odds are… it could be a disaster for pretty much everyone involved. And that’s without even considering exactly what the guy behind Basic Instinct and Showgirls is going to bring to the true story behind Hanukkah. But that Mel Gibson, you have to hand it to him… he’s got chutzpah!
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.