This week’s Ketchup includes the expected franchise reboots (both involving espionage types Jack Ryan and Matt Helm), new projects for Will Ferrell, Matthew McConaughey, and Clive Owen, and on the Rotten end of things, just wait until you find out what Hollywood wants to do with Moses and William Shakespeare.
Following the huge success of Star Trek, Paramount Pictures definitely plans to stay in the Chris Pine business, as the studio is negotiating with him to be the fourth actor (after Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck) to play CIA analyst Jack Ryan. Jack Ryan is the central character in several novels by author Tom Clancy, and Paramount has been wanting to reboot the character in movies for some time. In fact, the studio already tried to reboot Jack Ryan in 2002, casting Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears, but Affleck followed up Fears with a series of box office disappointments (Gigli, Paycheck, Surviving Christmas) which is probably why Paramount never continued the series with him. Screenwriter Hossein Amini (Killshot, The Wings of the Dove) is currently working on the latest draft of the next Jack Ryan film, based upon an original idea (ie, not an existing Tom Clancy book). The other half of the Chris Pine/Paramount news this week is that the studio is also working to line up the young star for The Art of Making Money. That film is set to be directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) and will start filming in early 2010, which means that Caruso will not be going three for three with Shia LeBeouf. This project is based upon the non-fiction book The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter, which was itself based upon a 2005 Rolling Stone article about a Chicago man who rose from specializing in petty theft to counterfeiting on a massive scale.
Back in the 1960s, Dean Martin starred in a series of James Bond knockoffs, as a secret agent named Matt Helm. Now Paramount appears to be moving forward with (long rumored) plans to relaunch the franchise, because there’s now a report of a new director and star for the project. The last big news had been this summer, when it was reported that Steven Spielberg was considering taking on Matt Helm (he eventually decided upon the Harvey remake instead). Now, it appears that director Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) is in talks with Paramount to direct, and the studio may also be talking to The Hangover star Bradley Cooper (and “Faceman” in the upcoming A-Team movie) about taking on the role made famous by Dean Martin. Previously, George Clooney and John Hamm (Mad Men) had been apparently been considered for the role, which, along with the Flint movies, has to also be considered an inspiration for Mike Myers’ Austin Powers movies. If all of this works out, both Ross and Cooper seem like great choices to revive the tongue-in-cheek Matt Helm franchise (if Ross can work comfortably with comic material).
Some people collect Hummel figurines. Some people obsess about collecting epic gear for their World of Warcraft characters. Director Ridley Scott apparently just loves collecting movies that he can be attached to. The latest project is Red Riding, a remake of a British television mini-series set up at Columbia Pictures. Based upon four novels, Red Riding is a tale of police corruption centered around the investigation of several missing young girls. The setting will be updated for the movie from the U.K. to the U.S.A. by screenwriter Steven Zaillian (American Gangster, Schindler’s List). The British mini-series was over five hours long, so Zaillian will also be challenged to compress the story into the length of a single feature film.
Following the big budget box office disaster that was Land of the Lost, Will Ferrell has signed on to star in Everything Must Go, an independent comedy with a budget of under $10 million. The project is scheduled to start filming in March and marks the feature debut of commercial director Dan Rush, who also wrote the script, based upon a short story by Raymond Carver. Will Ferrell will play a man who is locked out of his house by his wife, who throws all of his possessions on the lawn, leading to four days in which Ferrell tries to sell it all. Will Ferrell has done some indie work before, but this project in particular seems like the type a comedian takes when he wants to show the world his more dramatic side (albeit in an indie “dramedy” sort of way).
Matthew McConaughey will star in The Lincoln Lawyer, based upon a 2005 best-selling novel by Michael Connelly (2002’s Blood Work). Tommy Lee Jones has signed to costar and direct, making this Jones’s second feature film as director, following 2005’s The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. McConaughey will be playing a “wheeler dealer” Los Angeles lawyer who operates out of the back of his Lincoln town car, and who takes on the client of his career in the form of a millionaire playboy accused of murder. It’s unclear who Jones will be playing, but if it’s the playboy client, the character will have to be aged a bit from how he’s portrayed in Connelly’s novel. If that’s the case, the man doing the revision will be screenwriter John Romano (cowriter of Intolerable Cruelty, Nights in Rodanthe).
Author Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho, Rules of Attraction) and director Gus Van Sant are teaming up to adapt a screenplay based upon The Golden Suicides, an article in Vanity Fair. At this point, Van Sant’s involvement in the project is only as a screenwriter, but it’s worth mentioning that all of Van Sant’s previous writing credits were for movies that he did eventually direct. The true story behind The Golden Suicides involves the double suicides of NY/LA-based artists Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, who descended into a haze of paranoia that led to their 2007 deaths, ending successful careers as a video game designer (her) and as a “digital painter” (him). Gus Van Sant is currently preparing to direct Restless, starring Mia Wasikowska (star of next year’s Alice in Wonderland).
Although he continues to find success as a voice actor (the Madagascar movies), former Friends star David Schwimmer these days is mostly focused on growing his career as a director. He directed the 2007 comedy Run Fatboy Run, and he’s worked on several episodes of the TV series Little Britain USA. Next up for Schwimmer is the dark family drama Trust, which will star Catherine Keener and Clive Owen. They will play parents reeling from the aftermath of the revelation that their 14 year old daughter has been the victim of abuse by an adult she met in an Internet chat room, pretending to be another teenager. Filming of Trust starts on November 9 in Michigan.
Although the two Freaky Friday movies (starring first Jodie Foster and then Lindsay Lohan) were both hits for Walt Disney Pictures, they were actually based upon a book by Mary Rodgers, and so they do not apparently have 100% control over the concept of Freaky Friday getting a movie sequel. Enter CBS Films (which is also giving us the teen romance of Beastly next year), which has acquired the rights to Freaky Monday, the teen comedy story of a teenage girl who magically switches bodies with her junior high English teacher for a day. Freaky Monday was written by both Rodgers and Heather Hach, who cowrote the 2003 Freaky Friday that starred Lindsay Lohan. What’s unclear is whether this project was first proposed to Disney (and whether the studio turned the project down). This movie gets stamped as a Rotten Idea because in general, body swapping comedies are, as a subgenre, one of the absolute worst, and the idea of a sequel to one of Disney’s most recognized live action franchises being made outside the Mouse House just feels a bit strange. I’m not even that big of a fan of either Freaky Friday movie, but something about this sequel being made without the Disney seal of approval just feels… Rotten.
Director Roland Emmerich has built his career on destroying physical landmarks of our world in big budget movies like Godzilla, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and next month’s 2012. For his next project, Emmerich wants to destroy something that exists not in the form of towering architecture of brick and steel, but is instead the architecture of English language and literature. The movie is called Soul of the Age, and it attacks the concept of playwright William Shakespeare, claiming that the Great Bard’s plays were instead written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. Soul of the Age is also described as a political thriller centered around the Essex Rebellion and the question of who will succeed Queen Elizabeth I, and it was written by John Orloff (A Mighty Heart), who also wrote Zack Snyder’s upcoming owl fantasy Guardians of Ga’Hoole. So, on a certain level, Soul of the Age actually seems like an interesting movie (especially given that the controversy and conspiracy theories about who wrote Shakespeare’s plays do indeed continue), but I just can’t get past two words here: ROLAND EMMERICH. I’ve seen just about every movie he’s directed since Universal Soldier, and I just can’t see how his style could be applied tastefully to this particular subject. At best, it might have the feel of The Patriot, but I think he’s more likely to muddle things up something fierce.
This is how good movies that we used to love become taboo: their success and innovation become buzz words in Hollywood, and the approaches used to create them are applied to projects where they just… don’t work. It happened earlier this decade with The Matrix, and now the hot buzz movie is 300, as Hollywood types continue to claim their films will be like “fill-in-the-blank meets 300.” 20th Century Fox, the studio that seems to pride itself on coming up with more Rotten Ideas each month than any other, has announced a doozy in the form of a project that will tell the Biblical story of Moses “in 300 style” (quoted just to prove I’m not making this up). The brainiacs behind this idea are Bill Collage and Adam Cooper, the co-writers of Accepted and New York Minute (yes, the Olsen Twins movie), who are moving past teen comedies into classic stories with “modern” twists. First, they did this with a remake of Moby Dick for the director of Wanted, and now they’re taking on Moses. Filmed against a green screen like 300, the film will include all of the popular miracle scenes (the plagues on Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea), but also elements of Moses’ life that the writers found in “Rabbinical Midrash and other historical sources.”