Fresh Developments This Week
#1 THE DIRECTOR OF IRON MAN 3 KNOWS ALL ABOUT LETHAL WEAPONS
A few months back, Jon Favreau bailed out of directing Iron Man 3 so that he could instead focus on Disney’s Magic Kingdom movie. Last week, a story appeared online suggesting that Marvel Studios was thinking about hiring a certain director to replace Favreau on Iron Man 3, but that news didn’t make the Weekly Ketchup because it was a bit too open-ended to report as solid news. Now, Marvel Studios has officially announced that screenwriter-turned-director Shane Black is indeed in final negotiations to take over the Iron Man franchise. Shane Black is best known as the screenwriter who in the 1980s sold a little script called Lethal Weapon that went on to become a blockbuster franchise. After taking many years off from the business, Shane Black made a comeback in 2005 with his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which also helped revive the career of… Robert Downey Jr. So, in effect, Iron Man 3 will be a reunion project for Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr. What is not yet known is whether Shane Black will also work on the Iron Man 3 script. The movie isn’t scheduled for release until May 3, 2013, so Black does feasibly have time to do so, if Marvel decides to go that route.
#2 GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO: STILL HAPPENING!
Certain types of movies (in particular, any sort of animation) take so long to produce that it’s easy for them to slip off the news radar. When these sort of movies eventually re-emerge, they can seem like “newly announced” movies even when they’re not. Such is the case with one of the movies covered in this Weekly Ketchup from November, 2008, back when the headline was that Jaden Smith was going to star in a remake of The Karate Kid. The Weekly Ketchup doesn’t expect readers to remember stories from so long ago, and so here is an update. The movie in question is Guillermo del Toro’s collaboration with the Jim Henson Company on a 3D, stop-motion animated adaptation of Pinocchio, based on the artwork of artist Gris Gimly, based on the story by Carlo Collodi. The basic elements of this week’s news are nearly the same as what we learned in 2008, except that now we have concept art and a lot more comments about the project (follow the link). For example, this version of Pinocchio will be considerably more scary than the classic Disney animated version, and is intended for audiences aged 10 and up. We also now know that it will be filmed in 3D, will be codirected by Gris Gimly (debut) and Mark Gustafson (director of the TV show The PJs). The script was based upon a storyline cowritten by Guillermo del Toro, and is being written by Matthew Robbins. In addition to collaborating with del Toro on Mimic and the upcoming At the Mountains of Madness, Matthew Robbins also cowrote Dragonslayer and *Batteries Not Included.
#3 CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S NEXT (QUASI) SEQUEL WON’T BE SET IN GOTHAM CITY
Many years ago, one of Hollywood’s hottest “dueling movies” situations was the race to see which director would get their Howard Hughes biopic made first. The winner, as we all know now, was Martin Scorsese and the movie was 2004’s The Aviator, which went on to win five Academy Awards. That meant that the other Howard Hughes biopics were all shelved, and basically cancelled. One of those directors was Christopher Nolan, who in that time, was still known as just “the Memento guy.” Nolan went on to direct Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight and Inception, and he is obviously a higher profile director now. With The Dark Knight Rises filming soon, marking the end of Nolan’s run on the Batman franchise, the director is already looking at his future, and his dream of making a Howard Hughes biopic has popped back up. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, Nolan’s project basically starts where The Aviator left off, depicting the last four decades of the tycoon’s life. So, in a way, Nolan’s Hughes biopic could be interpreted as a quasi-sequel to The Aviator even though the two movies currently have no other official connection. Reportedly, Christopher Nolan hopes to start filming in 2012 in time for a release in 2014, marking the 10th anniversary of the release of The Aviator. There’s no word yet whether Leonardo DiCaprio would reprise his role as Howard Hughes, but he did star in Inception, so the seeds may have already been planted. As for The Dark Knight Rises, Marion Cotillard (another Inception costar, like Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon Levitt) is reportedly now in talks to costar in an unspecified role. One major issue is that Cotillard is currently pregnant, and is unsure about whether she will be ready to return to acting when The Dark Knight Rises starts filming in June. The role in question is being kept a mystery, but a strong rumor out there is that it could be Thalia Al Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson in Batman Begins), and in the comics, the mother of Bruce Wayne’s baby.
#4 CHARLIZE THERON LANDS CHOICE ROLE IN PROMETHEUS
Noomi Rapace (star of the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) has been attached for a while to play the lead in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (formerly known as the Alien prequel, which it isn’t called anymore). The big role that has long been a question mark after Rapace’s role is Vickers, a tough older female character. Ignoring rumors (namely, Michelle Yeoh), the two names that had been mentioned most recently were either Angelina Jolie or Charlize Theron (if being 35 counts as “older”). This week, Charlize Theron did indeed officially land that much sought after role. Now referred to as a completely original script “with Alien DNA” (written by Damon Lindelof of LOST fame), 20th Century Fox has scheduled Prometheus for June 3, 2012.
#5 PARAMOUNT HAS NOT FORGOTTEN THEIR OTHER NEW TEEN STAR
With all of the recent publicity for Paramount’s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, it is easy to forget that the studio has another teen star that has been in the box office charts for months now. The studio showed today, however that they have not Forgotten about Hailee Stanfeld, the Oscar-nominated star of True Grit. Paramount has picked up the screen rights to the upcoming Cat Patrick novel Forgotten as a star vehicle for the 14-year-old, newly found star. Stanfeld will play a teenager whose memory is erased at 4:33 every morning, leaving her only with “memories” of the future, which is doubly frustrating when she can’t find her new love interest in her future. Forgotten seems to be like a teen girl mashup of both Groundhog Day and Memento, and arguably a very good second movie for an actress currently associated with just one period piece western. There’s no screenwriter for Forgotten yet, but it’s probably a good guess that Paramount will want to move fast on this project to take advantage of Hailee’s legitimate “teenage” status while it lasts.
#6 MATTHEW VAUGHN TO GO FROM TEENAGE SUPERHEROES TO THE OPPOSITE IN THE GOLDEN AGE
Immediately after directing the teen superhero comic book adaptation Kick-Ass, director Matthew Vaughn moved onto the prequel X-Men: First Class, which also is heavy with teen characters. Vaughn wants to stick with superheroes for his next project, but the age range of his characters will change drastically with The Golden Age, an adaptation of an upcoming comic book written by British talk show host Jonathan Ross. The Golden Age will be set in a special retirement home for elderly superheroes. The title is also a reference to the 1930s and 1940s period in which superhero comic books first became popular. Vaughn already has a wish list for the stars he hopes to recruit to The Golden Age which includes such A-list stars as Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty. Vaughn cites the success of Red and The Expendables as inspiration for this idea of casting older stars in a superhero movie. It should be noted that Ross and Vaughn may face title issues with their choice of The Golden Age. That was also the title of a popular DC Comics mini-series written by James Robinson, who also adapted Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen into that awful movie (but I swear his comic book work is much, much better!). There’s no news of Warner Bros or DC Comics developing an adaptation of The Golden Age (yet), but they might still be able to block the use of such a title.
#7 ABIGAIL BRESLIN ATTENDING SOMETHING THAT IS DISTINCTLY NOT A VAMPIRE ACADEMY
Movie fans who regularly follow this column, and care enough to remember such things, may recall that the end of 2010 saw a social networking event happen here. Dozens of Vampire Academy fans swarmed the comments section in response to the tongue-in-cheek manner in which the object of their affection was described. The Vampire Academy fans are still waiting for the movie about their school for vampires, but in the meantime, a very similar movie is getting close to actually being filmed. And once again, the way in which this column describes the source material (also a popular Young Adult novel), has to be handled very diplomatically. Innocence is an adaptation of the novel by Jane Mendelsohn about “a recently bereaved teenage girl who finds herself the focus of everyone’s attention at her elitist private school, which is home to a nest of vampires.” Unlike the Vampire Academy series, the vampire aspect of Innocence appears to be much more subdued in the novel, although the movie adaptation’s synopsis is much more upfront about the vampires. Abigail Breslin (Zombieland, Little Miss Sunshine) will star as the main character of Beckett, and Julianne Moore is also attached to star in an unspecified role (but she’s probably going to play the school nurse and Beckett’s new stepmother). Innocence will be directed by Hilary Brougher, who has previously worked on the indies Stephanie Daley and The Sticky Fingers of Time. The script was adapted by Tristine Skyler, who also cowrote the 1999 indie film Getting to Know You, and is currently working on an adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Filming of Innocence is expected to start in the summer of 2011. Killer Films, the independent company behind movies like One Hour Photo, Far From Heaven and Boys Don’t Cry is producing Innocence. Jane Mendelsohn’s first novel I Was Amelia Earhart was previously in development for over a decade, but the 2009 release of Amelia effectively ended the development of that competing movie.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 CLOCKS WILL MELT RIGHT IN YOUR FACE IN THE SALVADOR DALI BIOPIC
Although the 3D fad continues to be popular with kids’ movies, horror movies and big budget tentpole releases, the visual technique has yet to really be used much in non-genre fare. Now, an Australian director best known for, well, genre movies, has announced plans for a $15 million 3D movie based upon the life of Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali and his lover Gala. The tentatively titled Dali 3D will start filming in 3D in Cologne, Germany in June, 2011 and then move on to locations in New York, London and Barcelona. Alan Cumming and Judy Davis are attached to star as Salvador and Gala. Phillippe Mora is an Australian director best known for either 1970s “Ozploitation” movies (as documented in Not Quite Hollywood, or for a string of early 1980s horror movies that included The Howling II, The Howling III and The Beast Within. It is Mora’s filmography that lands Dali 3D in the Rotten Idea category, but the movie’s otherwise intriguing premise (an arthouse biopic in 3D) puts it right on the borderline.
#1 THE DIE HARD 5 DIRECTOR MAY NOT MAKE YOU SHOUT “YIPPIE-KAY-AY”
When Live Free or Die Hard earned over $383 million worldwide in 2007 (partly thanks to the shift to PG-13), it seemed inevitable that 20th Century Fox would eventually move forward with plans for a Die Hard 5. The sequel reached the next logical step this week with the hiring of a director, but Fox’s choice is sure to baffle many. The Die Hard 5 directing job has gone to Noam Murro, a commercials director whose only feature film to date is the 2008 indie-flavored comedy Smart People, starring Dennis Quaid, Ellen Page and Sarah Jessica Parker. Generally, the Die Hard franchise is perceived as more action-heavy than focused on the foibles of academic white folks, which is why this is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas. The screenwriter of Die Hard 5 however does have more of an action-oriented resume. Skip Woods wrote Swordfish and Hitman, and also cowrote The A-Team and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.