This week’s Ketchup includes news for the latest entries in the Die Hard and Taken action franchises, as well as new roles for Sandra Bullock, Jim Carrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey, Jr. and Ben Stiller.
This Week’s Top Story
GET READY FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE iBIOPIC
Last week, this writer kept a spot open for the announcement of a biopic about the life of Apple founder Steve Jobs, following his death on October 5th. It seemed inevitable, but no announcement was made within those first 47 hours or so. And then, an hour after last week’s Ketchup was submitted to Rotten Tomatoes to be published, Sony Pictures announced that the studio behind The Social Network has acquired the rights to the only authorized Steve Jobs biography, from author Walter Isaacson. Such is the luck of the deadline-bound writer sometimes. There is no word yet about how exactly Sony plans on adapting the book, such as whether the film will attempt to cover Steve Jobs’ entire career, or just parts (such as either the founding of Apple in the 1970s, or the 2000s resurgence with the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad). Who Sony might hire to adapt the book or direct the eventual script is also unknown. What is known is that there was already a Steve Jobs biopic, in the form of the TNT TV movie The Pirates of Silicon Valley, in which Steve Jobs was portrayed by Noah Wyle. Well, that and the untitled Steve Jobs biopic is currently being produced by Mark Gordon (Speed, 2012, The Patriot, The Day After Tomorrow). Steve Jobs, the book, will be published on October 24, 2011.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 THE FIFTH DIE HARD GETS A TITLE, RELEASE DATE, AND LIST OF POTENTIAL JOHN MCCLANE JUNIORS
It was revealed this week that the next film in the popular Die Hard action series starring Bruce Willis will be A Good Day to Die Hard. 20th Century Fox has also already chosen a release date of February 14, 2013, AKA Valentine’s Day. Bruce Willis has long been signed to return (of course), which leaves the role of John McClane’s son as the biggest question mark. Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad reportedly tops the wish list at 20th Century Fox of the studio’s top five choices for the role, which also includes Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma), Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), Milo Ventimiglia (NBC’s Heroes) and Paul Walker of the Fast and the Furious franchise. This role is so important to the film because A Good Day to Die Hard revolves around the story of John McClane traveling to Moscow to help his son fight international terrorism (a premise that deserves an asterisk if you recall the plots of some of the earlier films). A Good Day to Die Hard will be directed by 20th Century Fox regular John Moore, whose first four films were Behind Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix, the remake of The Omen and the videogame adaptation Max Payne.
#2 DIRTY SANDY BULLOCK?
Sandra Bullock is in talks with Warner Bros to costar with Clint Eastwood in the baseball drama Trouble with the Curve, which was first announced just last week. If she signs, Sandra Bullock will be playing the daughter of an elderly (and going blind) baseball scout who travels to Georgia to check out a hot prospect. Trouble with the Curve will mark the first time since 1993’s In the Line of Fire that Clint Eastwood will be starring in a movie that he is not also directing. This time, that job is going to Eastwood’s long time producing partner Robert Lorenz, as his big screen directing debut. Clint Eastwood’s name first came up as being associated with Trouble with the Curve last week, as he suddenly has free time on his hands because the new version of A Star is Born is currently delayed by Beyonce Knowles’ recently revealed pregancy.
#3 ROBERT DOWNEY JR. MAY BE THE THE ACCIDENTAL GENIUS
Just a week after acquiring the rights for a Perry Mason movie, Robert Downey Jr.’s and his wife Susan Downey’s production company Team Downey are attached to another project at Warner Bros. The studio has picked up the spec pitch The Accidental Genius from writer Adam Gibgot, whose previous credits were as a writer on two David Blaine TV specials. The drama is described as being about “an ordinary man awakens from a coma with astonishing intelligence, and visions of a bizarre symbol recognized only by a burnt-out prodigy. Together, the two men set out to solve a hundred-year-old mystery that could change the world.” Like all Team Downey projects, it is expected that if The Accidental Genius eventually gets made, Robert Downey Jr. would have one of the lead roles (probably the title one).
#4 LEONARDO DICAPRIO’S BEAUTIFUL MIND MAY PLAY THE IMITATION GAME
Warner Bros has outbid over five independent companies for the rights to produce a biopic feature film about British mathematician Alan Turing, who was a central figure in the race during World War II to develop a way of cracking the Nazi Enigma codes that gave the Axis potential dominance of Atlantic waters. Although the star is not yet attached, it was the interest of Leonardo DiCaprio in playing Alan Turing that led Warner Bros to pursue the rights to the script, called The Imitation Game, from newcomer screenwriter Graham Moore. The narrative appeal of Alan Turing’s life as a feature film is probably best summed up by Deadline.com in their description of Turing as an “English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, computer scientist, criminally prosecuted homosexual, and tortured soul who committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple.”
#5 JIM CARREY TO GET MAGICAL IN BURT WONDERSTONE
Jim Carrey is in talks with New Line Cinema to costar with Steve Carell in the comedy Burt Wonderstone. Carrey and Carell previously costarred together in Bruce Almighty, which led to Carell starring in the sequel Evan Almighty. Steve Carell has already been signed for a while to star as a Las Vegas magician who breaks up with his stage partner and finds himself challenged as a solo artist by a “rival hip street magician” (think David Blaine). It’s unclear whether Jim Carrey will be playing Carell’s old partner or the street magician with whom he has a rivalry (but it’s probably the latter). Burt Wonderstone will mark the feature film debut of TV director Don Scardino, who has directed episodes for dozens of TV shows, including much of 30 Rock and several episodes of Law and Order. Burt Wonderstone was written by Horrible Bosses cowriters Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley (AKA Sam Weir, the star of Freaks and Geeks). Jim Carrey’s casting is one of the week’s Fresh Developments because it seems like it could be a return to the sort of edgier, wackier comedy roles that made Carrey a star to begin with.
#6 THE LATEST DJANGO UNCHAINED CASTING NEWS: INTRODUCING DON JOHNSON
One of the things that Quentin Tarantino is best known for is his interest in casting aging stars in surprising roles that sometimes help rejuvenate their film careers. The casting of the slavery era Spaghetti Western Django Unchained continued this week with recruitment of Miami Vice and Nash Bridges TV star Don Johnson to play one of the film’s villainous plantation owners. Johnson will play a slave owner named Spencer Bennett who specializes in using female slaves as prostitutes. Johnson joins a growing ensemble cast that already includes Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, M.C. Gainey, Kurt Russell and others.
#7 BEST MAN 2 SOLEMNLY SWEARS TO BE THE MOST LEFT-FIELD SEQUEL YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS WEEK
The 1999 romantic comedy The Best Man received good reviews, but was not a box office smash, and for many people, twelve years later, it may be difficult to even recall that The Best Man ever even existed. One distinction that The Best Man did have, however, was that it featured a mostly African American cast in the pre-Tyler Perry era of the late 1990s. With no movement yet on plans for a sequel to Bridesmaids, Universal Pictures is instead now focusing its wedding-movie-sequel energies on developing Best Man 2. Director, writer and producer Malcolm D. Lee, who made his debut with The Best Man (before going on to direct films like Undercover Brother and Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins), is signed to repeat those duties for the sequel. The original film was about a writer (played by Taye Diggs) of an upcoming autobiographical novel who has to deal with the ramifications of the book’s revelations as he and his friends prepare for a wedding. Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Sanaa Lathan and Harold Perrineau all also costarred in The Best Man, and are expected to return for the sequel, but no deals are yet in place.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 BEN STILLER REPLACES RUSSELL BRAND AS RENTAGHOST
Rentaghost was the title of a British kids TV series that aired on BBC1 from 1976 to 1984 that was about a business that hired out ghosts to perform various jobs. A movie version of Rentaghost had previously been announced as being in development at Warner Bros, with Russell Brand expected to star. However, when the remake of Arthur failed to be a big hit, Russell Brand dropped his interest in Rentaghost, eventually leading to Warner Bros dropping the project entirely. Now, 20th Century Fox has picked up the rights to Rentaghost as a reunion project for the star and writers of the studio’s popular Night at the Museum movies. Ben Stiller will play an American consultant who is sent to England to help the Rentaghost business turn around, from a script by the writing team of Tom Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, who, in addition to the Night at the Museum movies, have also worked together on The Pacifier, Herbie Fully Loaded and the upcoming comedy adaptation of the self-help book What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
#1 TAKEN 2 VILLAIN AND PREMISE REVEALED (SPOILER: IT’S PRETTY MUCH EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE)
Serbian actor Rade Sherbedgia is a high ranking member in the “That Guy?” club of highly recognizable character actors who few movie fans can actually name. His long list of film roles includes Batman Begins, Mission: Impossible II, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part I and X-Men: First Class. Now, Rade Sherbedgia has added another “foreign baddie” job to his filmography with a deal with 20th Century Fox to play the new lead villain in Taken 2. Filming of the sequel starts in Turkey and France later this month, and 20th Century Fox has already set a release date of October 5, 2012. This time around, Liam Neeson’s formidable former CIA agent will find himself and his wife (played by Famke Janssen) kidnapped while overseas by the angry father of the first film’s villain, and it will be up to his daughter (played by Maggie Grace) to save them. See how they turned things around there? Taken 2 will be directed by Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3, Colombiana) from a script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. Taken 2 is the week’s Most Rotten Idea based mostly on the RT Tomatometer scores for the first Taken (58%) and Olivier Megaton’s two films as director (37% for Transporter 3 and 29% for Colombiana).
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.