This Week’s Ketchup includes casting news for Green Lantern, Transformers 3, and Tyler Perry’s next movie, as well as news about potential movies based upon Popeye, Spy Hunter, and Green Day’s American Idiot.
Last Friday night, the news broke that Chris Evans (the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies) had been offered the role of Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, in The First Avenger: Captain America, just a few hours after last week’s Ketchup was published, and this week, it was confirmed that Evans has indeed signed on for the role. Over the last several weeks, many young actors were considered, but Chris Evans was a relatively late addition, and one of the more famous possibilities as well. Although many of the actors (mostly young actors who primarily work in TV) were received with skepticism by fans, the reaction to Evans has been quite positive. There had been some concern that other movies that Evans had signed to do (like an Anna Faris comedy called What’s Your Number?) might lead to Evans being unable to sign on, but apparently those issues were resolved. Something that is particularly curious about Chris Evans starring in this movie is that The First Avenger: Captain America is that it will prominently feature the World War II superhero team The Invaders, and one of the most famous characters was the Human Torch, although it was an android and not Johnny Storm (in the comics, Johnny took his name from the WWII hero). Due to Fox still having the rights to Fantastic Four, it’s likely that the Human Torch will not be included in this version of the Invaders. As for Chris Evans, he can also be seen in the awesome new trailer for Scott Pilgrim vs the World, which is also a comic book adaptation, and will be released on August 13, 2010. The First Avenger: Captain America will be released by Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios on July 22, 2011 and filming is expected to start in April in Europe. In addition to The First Avenger: Captain America, Chris Evans’ new contract includes up to eight other Marvel movies as Captain America, including The Avengers and any other movies Marvel wants to put Cap in.
The classic video game franchise Spy Hunter has been in development as a movie property for well over ten years, including times when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was expected to star, and potential directors included John Woo and Paul W.S. Anderson. During most of that time, the Spy Hunter project was set up at Universal Pictures, but last year, Warner Bros acquired Midway Games out of bankruptcy court, and in the process, the studio acquired the rights to Spy Hunter. Now, the studio is reviving Spy Hunter, with Dan Lin, one of the studio’s producers (Sherlock Holmes, Terminator: Salvation) attached to guide the property. The job of adapting Spy Hunter has gone to screenwriter Chad St. John, who doesn’t yet have any produced credits, but his Warner Bros projects include a remake of Outland and the Sgt. Rock movie that would move the character from World War II to the future. Spy Hunter got its start as a 1983 arcade game, and there have been other more recent versions including the 2006 game Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run, which starred Dwayne Johnson because the game was originally intended to be a tie-in to the movie which never got made. The concept of Spy Hunter is that the player takes on the role of a spy whose special car, the G-6155, comes tricked with all sorts of special toys like oil slicks, smoke screens and a missile launcher.
It’s very easy to consider anything that gets covered in Weekly Ketchup that has the word Transformers in the title as a “Rotten Idea,” but this week’s news is so surprising that this writer has to have an open mind and list it as a “Fresh Development.” Michael Bay has announced three new actors for Transformers 3, which include an Oscar winner and a two-time Oscar nominee. Frances McDormand will play the National Intelligence Director, John Malkovich will play Sam Witwicky’s new boss and Ken Jeong from The Hangover will also have an unknown role. Filming locations will include Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida, Texas, Washington, D.C., Moscow and China. Moscow and China may not be the most exotic locations, however, as a new set report, if true, seems to suggest that other settings may also include Iran and… the Moon. Michael Bay has also revealed via his blog that Transformers 3 will introduce a new Autobot that can turn into a red Ferrari 458 Italia. Hopefully the new Transformer won’t have an annoying Italian accent. Paramount Pictures will release Transformers 3 on July 1, 2011.
Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do with It?) has joined the cast of Green Lantern, which recently started filming in New Orleans and Louisiana. Angela Bassett will be playing Dr. Amanda Waller, who is a very important character in the DC Universe, and hints at Bassett’s likely involvement in future movies based upon DC Comics characters. Amanda Waller has had a number of job titles over the years, including the covert group Checkmate, the Department of Extranormal Operations, a stint as the Secretary of Metahuman Affairs, and most famously, as the leader of the Suicide Squad, which is itself a title that Warner Bros is currently developing as its own movie. Amanda Waller is very similar for the DC Comics to the role that Nick Fury plays in Marvel Comics, so it seems very possible that Bassett will appear in future movies in the same way that Samuel L. Jackson will keep showing up in movies like Iron Man 2, Thor and The Avengers. The casting of Angela Bassett does however suggest a change in the way that Amanda Waller is traditionally portrayed, as she is considerably thinner than the comic book version (Mo’Nique looks more like the comics character). Also, longtime comics fans will remember that way back when, Angela Bassett was considered to play Storm in the the X-Men movies, but reportedly turned the role down, which went instead to Halle Berry. Green Lantern is of course being directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Legend of Zorro), and stars Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, as well as Mark Strong (as Sinestro), Peter Sarsgaard (as Hector Hammond), Temuera Morrison (as Abin Sur), Blake Lively (as Carol Ferris) and Tim Robbins.
Tom Cruise made the news twice week, once for Mission: Impossible IV and again for a potential new movie for the star. First up is the search for a Mission: Impossible IV director, with talks currently underway with three directors who are all unexpected potential choices. The director who makes the headlines is Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille), who would be making his live action debut if he signed on. Bird has been working on developing another live action project, a movie called 1906 about the San Francisco earthquake, but that project is apparently not ready for filming yet, and may be stalled due to budget limitations. Producers J.J. Abrams and Tom Cruise are also talking to Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), who dazzled online fans this week with the launch of the awesome trailer for this summer’s Scott Pilgrim Vs the World. Ruben Fleischer also made the news this week by selling an untitled buddy cop action comedy to DreamWorks. The Mission: Impossible IV screenplay has been written (under J.J. Abrams’ guidance) by Andre Nemec and Josh Appelbaum, who have written several episodes of ABC shows like Life on Mars, October Road, the upcoming Happy Town, and J.J. Abrams’ Alias. The new Tom Cruise project announced this week is called Paper Wings, and is a Sony project about the romance between a rodeo champ and an upcoming country singer. Cruise is only considering the movie at this point, as is Reese Witherspoon. If Paper Wings goes forward, it will be directed by Gabriele Muccino (Seven Pounds, The Pursuit of Happyness).
Tyler Perry has announced the cast of his movie version of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, and the list is full of big names. First up, three of the stars are famous singers: Mariah Carey, Macy Gray and Janet Jackson. They will be joined by Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show), Kerry Washington (Fantastic Four), Loretta Devine (Boston Public), Kimberly Elise (CBS’s Close to Home) and Jurnee Smollett (NBC’s Friday Night Lights). For Colored Girls… is an adaptation of the award-winning 1975 play by Ntozake Shange, which is a series of monologues about the experiences of African American women, including love, rape and abortion. For Colored Girls… will be produced, directed and was written by Tyler Perry, who of course, has become something of a movie factory, responsible for a series of hit movies. Lionsgate will be releasing For Colored Girls… in either late 2010 or early 2011. Perry also produced last year’s Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, which also costarred Mariah Carey. The latest project for that film’s director, Lee Daniels, is Selma, about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1965 civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama. That film also had casting news this week, with Liam Neeson signed to play President Lyndon Johnson (AKA LBJ) and Cedric the Entertainer playing Ralph Abernathy, one of King’s closest associates.
Tom Hanks’ Playtone production company (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, HBO’s Band of Brothers) is currently in talks to start development of a movie version of the upcoming Broadway musical American Idiot. That musical was inspired by the 2004 album of the same title by the pop punk trio Green Day, and uses Green Day songs to tell the coming-of-age story of three small town guys (one that signed up with the military, one that has a drug habit and one that got his girlfriend pregnant). The Broadway musical features very little dialogue in between the songs, with the music telling most of the story. Playtone (which has a development deal at Universal) had a big hit in 2008 with Mamma Mia!, which was also a musical adaptation using the songs of a very different group (ABBA). If Playtone moves ahead with American Idiot, it is unlikely that Green Day will appear in the movie as the main characters, but the band will most likely be very involved, as Billie Joe Armstrong has been talking about his ideas for an American Idiot movie since the album came out.
With Hollywood grabbing up the rights to so many old toy and board game properties, it was sort of inevitable that the toy companies would start making their toys with such future deals in mind. Mattel (which has movie deals that include Stretch Armstrong, Hot Wheels and Barbie) is developing a new (as yet untitled) line of toys revolving around an alien civilization that lives in the depths of Earth’s oceans. The toy line is being eyed to eventually be adapted as a movie, TV show, game or anything else that Mattel wants to brand. This story is sort of a borderline “Rotten Idea,” as there’s always the potential that Mattel’s new toy property could be awesome. But, even if it is, any potential movie based upon it will still be a movie based upon a toy that was specifically designed just to become a movie, and that mercenary approach sounds like it will more than likely turn out more than just a bit “Rotten.”
The new Buck Rogers movie (which is being produced by the same company that is rebooting Conan the Barbarian) will not only take moviegoers to the 25th century, but it will also be in 3D. Buck Rogers is a science fiction character who finds himself transported hundreds of years into the future, and since 1928, he has been featured in pulp stories, novels, comic strips, radio, television, movies and video games. This movie will be the first live action adaptation since the NBC series starring Gil Gerard went off the air in 1981. The director that has been hired for Buck Rogers is Paul W.S. Anderson, the fan-genre-loving director of such movies as Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil and AVP: Alien vs Predator. Anderson also recently wrapped up filming of Resident Evil: Afterlife, and is preparing to film this fall another 3D project: The Three Musketeers. This new Buck Rogers movie is being adapted by screenwriters Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (cowriters of Iron Man, Punisher: War Zone). Their involvement with Iron Man is promising for this movie, but the hiring of Anderson is what landed this as one of this week’s Rotten Ideas, just based on the average RT scores of most of Anderson’s previous films.
With just over a year before The Smurfs is released next summer (8/3/11), Sony Pictures Imageworks has announced plans for another 3D CGI animated movie based upon an old cartoon: Popeye. Popeye the Sailor got his start in 1929 as a comic strip character, but Popeye eventually starred in cartoons, television cartoon shows, comic books, video games and a (bizarre) live action 1980 movie starring a barely recognizable Robin Williams (and directed by Robert Altman, to make it even wierder). Popeye is a strange looking one-eyed man with a speech impediment, skinny biceps and huge forearms who can become super strong when he eats canned spinach. Popeye’s supporting cast includes his true love Olive Oyl, a hulking romantic rival variously known as Bluto or Brutus, another villain called the Sea Hag, an orphaned baby named Sweet Pea, his father Poopdeck Pappy and the hamburger loving Wimpy. I should note that the idea of a Popeye animated movie is not by itself a Rotten Idea, but what makes this story “Rotten” is the approach that producer Avi Arad (former head of Marvel Studios) seems to describe, which sounds overly ambitious and dramatic, considering this is Popeye we’re talking about. Arad says that “the new version will cover the themes of friendship, love, greed and life, and focus on human strengths and human frailties.” I enjoyed the Popeye cartoons as a kid, but sometimes, I think one has to let a cartoon be… just a cartoon. Popeye isn’t exactly Shakespeare. I will close this story by noting that Popeye is this week’s most Rotten Idea by default, because the story about Jamie Foxx writing a movie version of Laverne & Shirley has already been debunked.