This week’s Ketchup has lots and lots of movie development news stories involving sequels (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2, Clerks III, Pacific Rim 2, TRON 3, and Wreck-It Ralph 2). Is our long, slow slog through the wave of remakes finally behind us, so that Hollywood can get back to focusing its collective social regurgitation on that whole chestnut, the endless wave of sequels? Perhaps, or perhaps this was just a very “sequelly” week, and the near future will bring us back to the remakes and reimaginings and all that re-re-re-business. George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Johnny Depp also made some news this week.
This Week’s Top Story
CHRONICLE STAR DANE DEHAAN CAST AS THE NEW HARRY OSBORN IN THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
One of the best movies in 2012 about people with “super powers” wasn’t about superheroes specifically, or even based upon a pre-existing franchise, comic book or otherwise. That movie was Chronicle, and one of the stand out stars was Dane DeHaan, whose troubled character comes into conflict with his friends as their abilities evolve. There are other more “spoilery” ways of describing that movie’s premise, but Chronicle only came out 10 months ago, so we’ll just leave it at that. 2012 was a big year for young Dane DeHaan, as Chronicle was the first of four movies he appeared in, followed by Lawless, Jack & Diane, and Lincoln. And this week, we found out that DeHaan was the actor that emerged after an extensive casting process as the next actor to play Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, taking over the role that James Franco originated. There’s still no word yet as to whether Harry’s dad Norman Osborn (AKA the Green Goblin) will also be cast in the sequel. The press release did, however, confirm the casting of Jamie Foxx as the superpowered villain Electro, who had previously just been listed as being “in negotiations” for the role. Besides the presence or absence of Norman Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Dane DeHaan’s casting also leaves us still wondering if Harry or Norman will be sporting the weird quasi-cornrow-ish hairstyles they traditionally have in the comic books. Coincidentally (or not), James Franco did end up wearing cornrows as his character in the upcoming crime drama Spring Breakers.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 WRECK-IT RALPH 2 WILL EVENTUALLY HAPPEN, AND IT WILL INCLUDE A ROLE FOR MARIO
Half the fun of Wreck-It Ralph for some old school video game fans was spotting the many, many “Easter eggs” within the film (in addition to the much more obvious references). One subject of a rumor was the absence in Wreck-It Ralph of Nintendo’s Mario, though Mario’s nemesis Bowser does appear in the film, and in some of the marketing. The rumor was that Nintendo wanted too much of a licensing fee from Disney for the use of Mario or his brother Luigi, but director Rich Moore revealed this week that this was not the case. Instead, a good enough story for Mario wasn’t available within the limits of the first movie, but that is something that will be corrected in the sequel. And that leads us to the other half lead of this story, which is that, yes, indeed, a Wreck-It Ralph 2 sequel is pretty much inevitable, given the first film’s success. There isn’t yet an official confirmation from Disney itself about the sequel, but the director and the film’s two leads John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman all seem convinced that it will eventually happen, and Rich Moore will be back to direct it. One sequel about life inside video games that Disney did officially confirm this week is TRON 3, for which the studio has hired screenwriter Jesse Wigutow (It Runs in the Family) to work on a new rewrite. Director Joseph Kosinski is still attached to return for TRON 3 at some point after the release of his next science fiction film, Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise.
#2 JOHNNY DEPP MAY STAR IN A MODERN RETELLING OF DON QUIXOTE AFTER ALL
Director Terry Gilliam’s attempts to make a modern retelling of Cervantes’ 17th century novel Don Quixote were so epic and tragic that they led to an entire feature film documentary in 2002 called Lost in La Mancha. The passing of a full decade hasn’t really changed much, but the notion of such a film apparently stuck with Gilliam’s would be lead actor, Johnny Depp. Depp’s production company Infinitum Nihil has sealed a deal with Walt Disney Pictures to produce a modern “re-imagining” of Don Quixote, based on a pitch to be written by screenwriters Steve Pink (cowriter of High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe Blank) and Jeff Morris (2006’s You Did What?). It’s not yet known if Steve Pink will direct, but that is a possibility considering that his career as of late has been less focused on screenwriting, with Pink having directed Accepted, Hot Tub Time Machine, and episodes of New Girl and Children’s Hospital. Likewise, it’s unclear whether Johnny Depp will act in this movie, and if so, what role he would play (in Gilliam’s shelved movie, Depp didn’t actually play Don Quixote either).
#3 MATT DAMON JOINS GEORGE CLOONEY’S LATEST CAVALCADE OF STARS CALLED THE MONUMENTS MEN
From the beginning, George Clooney’s upcoming WWII period drama The Monuments Men was described as being an ensemble piece with lots of meaty roles. However, reading that and actually seeing the list of actors that Clooney has attracted is turning out to be two different experiences. The parallel to the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy was accentuated this week by the news that Matt Damon is now in talks for one of the roles in The Monuments Men. If Damon signs on, he will join an ensemble cast that includes Bob Balaban (Best in Show), Cate Blanchett, Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Daniel Craig, Jean Dujardin (The Artist), John Goodman, Bill Murray, and George Clooney himself. The Monuments Men will tell the true story of the U.S. military’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program — as related in the 2009 book by Robert M. Edsel — which was tasked with procuring the various great works of art that the Nazis had stashed away at locations across Europe. This task required a team with a unique set of skills and knowledge, which is presumably where the movie will get a lot of its humor from, with Balaban, Goodman, and Murray probably representing one side of the contrast, and someone like Daniel Craig on the other, more traditionally military side. The Monuments Men starts filming in Europe in January, 2013 under George Clooney’s direction, as a coproduction between 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures. One has to imagine that Fox and Sony probably hope that Clooney can finish the film in time for awards season, this time next year.
#4 THIS WEEK IN GUILLERMO DEL TORO NEWS: PACIFIC RIM 2, CRIMSON PEAK, A.T.M.O.M., AND… PAN’S LABYRINTH: THE MUSICAL?
For a guy that hasn’t delivered a feature film since Hellboy II: The Golden Army in 2008, Guillermo del Toro sure knows how to continue to inspire interest from both the readers and writers of our collected movie news community. The biggest story might have been that Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros are already moving forward with plans for a sequel to next July’s giant-robots-vs-giant-monsters action fest Pacific Rim (AKA GDT’s paean to old Japanese man-in-rubber-suit movies). GDT will cowrite the sequel along with screenwriter Travis Beacham, who wrote the original script treatment for Pacific Rim. It’s not yet known if GDT will also direct that sequel, or if perhaps another director would take over for what could theoretically be the second in a long line of films that GDT’s already too busy for. For example, we now know that GDT’s next film after Pacific Rim as director will be a movie called Crimson Peak, and it will be a ghost story. In a similar vein, there’s also GDT’s dream of directing a feature film adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, which was shelved at Universal, and then later, was perceived as possibly being torpedoed by the similar themes of this year’s Prometheus. Well, Prometheus didn’t exactly set the world on fire, so that may explain why GDT is optimistic again that it might someday happen, and if it does, the new home will probably be Legendary Pictures, where GDT is apparently getting warmer, fuzzier vibes than with past studios. That wraps up our week of Guilermo Del Toro news… at the movies. The fourth movie to get news this week was 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth, but we’re not talking about a movie sequel or remake here. Nope, GDT is co-producing a stage musical adaptation of Pan’s Labyrinth with songwriter extraordinaire (and recent documentary subject) Paul Williams. Maybe it’ll sound something like, “Someday, they’ll find it, that Labyrinthian connection, the fairies, the mandrake, and me…”
#5 SETH MCFARLANE’S LIVE ACTION TED FOLLOW UP WILL DEPICT A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST
Movie fans typically spend a lot more time obsessing about big budget “genre” movies like The Avengers and next year’s Man of Steel. However, the success this year of Ted showed how potentially profitable comedies can be, considering their lower costs (specifically, $65 million versus a global box office take of $501 million). Ted‘s success also suggested for its independent financiers Media Rights Capital that it might be good to stay in the Seth McFarlane business. And so, MRC has given a greenlight for the summer, 2013 filming of a new western/comedy called A Million Ways to Die in the West, to be cowritten and directed by Seth McFarlane, who will also star in it. As the title and genre suggests, A Million Ways to Die in the West will be a comedy in the style of Blazing Saddles, with a particular emphasis on how dangerous life was in the Wild West of the late 19th century. There isn’t yet a domestic distributor for A Million Ways; 20th Century Fox was thought by many to have bungled Ted when the film was allowed to end up at Universal Pictures, and not within the same corporate umbrella as McFarlane’s various animated TV projects, including most famously, Family Guy.
#6 COLIN FIRTH AND HELEN MIRREN MAY BE THE NEWEST TENANTS AT THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL… 2
Its $134 global box office gross pales in comparison to that of Ted, but The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was another of this year’s surprise success stories. The British comedy about retirees staying at a decaying facility in India featured an ensemble cast that included Dame Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Dev Patel (The Last Airbender) in a really over the top performance as the hotel’s manager. That there would be a sequel, and soon, has been known for a while now, but this week, Roger Friedman of ShowBiz411.com reported on whom he has been told are “likely additions” for the sequel’s cast. Specifically, the rumored names are Colin Firth (who, at 52, is on the youngish side) and Dame Helen Mirren. Less specifically, the sequel is also looking to cast an older American actress, which might be an opportunity to increase the star wattage and broaden the appeal in the USA.
#7 THE AFFLECK FAMILY’S FILMIC COVERAGE OF THEIR HOMETOWN TO CONTINUE WITH THE BOSTON STRANGLER
Ben and Casey Affleck are still relatively young, so at the rate they’re producing, directing, and starring in movies about their hometown (basically) of Boston, it’s easy to imagine that by the time their film careers are done, the Afflecks will have covered pretty much everything, including the Red Sox, the tea party, the Pixies, clam chowder, New Kids on the Block, baked beans, Paul Revere, Cheers, and cream pie. Just saying, the Afflecks love Boston. Anyway, moving along, Casey Affleck has parlayed his and his brother’s strong connections at Warner Bros into a new deal depicting the true story of the 1960s serial killer cases attributed to the person or persons known as the Boston Strangler. Casey Affleck hopes to star in this film (that will inevitably be compared to Zodiac) as one of the detectives who was part of the “Strangler Squad” tasked with finding who was responsible for the sexual assaults and deaths by strangulation of at least 13 women in the Boston area.
Rotten Idea of the Week
#2 KEVIN SMITH’S RETIREMENT PLANS CHANGE TO END INSTEAD WITH CLERKS III
Writer/director Kevin Smith has been talking for years now about his impending retirement from feature films for the big screen, and for much of that time, the plan was for a two-part hockey movie called Hit Somebody. Today, Smith got onto his Twitter account and announced that Hit Somebody will become a six hour TV miniseries instead, and his final movie will be something that ties up his career in a nice 20 year long knot. That is, of course, if, as the timing suggests, the newly confirmed Clerks III is indeed released in 2014 in time to mark the 20th anniversary of both the original Clerks and Smith’s career itself. No firm premise details are as yet known, except that Clerks III will continue the stories of friends and sometimes coworkers Randal Graves and Dante Hicks. As for why Clerks III is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas, there’s two ways to look at it, depending upon what you personally think of Kevin Smith’s films: If you’re on the more pessimistic side, there’s the Rotten RT Tomatometer scores for Smith’s last two films as director: Cop Out (19%) and Red State (58%). On the other side, there are the avid Kevin Smith fans, for whom this can be seen as a Rotten Idea because they’re all sadface about Smith ending his career after just 20 years and 11 narrative feature films.
#1 ROTTEN RUMOR OF THE WEEK: WILL DARKSEID BE THE BIG BAD IN THE JUSTICE LEAGUE MOVIE?
Although the impact of the impending duel was possibly diverted a bit by the recent news that Disney is also releasing Star Wars Episode VII in 2015, the coming competition between The Avengers 2 and Justice League is still a huge, huge story. At this point, regardless of the critical and box office successes of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, many would probably agree that Marvel has the upper hand going into The Avengers 2. That sequel has at least six already released world-building films out there to build upon, and by the time it’s released, there will also be Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Warner Bros and DC Comics, on the other hand, appear likely to be nearly starting from scratch (or possibly with a little help from Man of Steel, depending upon how much foreshadowing that Superman movie ends up containing). All of the foreshadowing that Marvel does with their movies, however, arguably removes some of the sense of surprise. Take, for example, the reveal in the end credits that the big bad of The Avengers was actually Thanos, complete with that line about “courting Death” (who Thanos is all hearts-and-cupids in love with). And finally, we actually get to the story this week, which is that Latino Review is reporting that the villain in the Justice League movie will be Darkseid, the evil leader of the New Gods and one of Superman’s (and the DC Universe in general) biggest and baddest big bads. There is, however, another very important thing to note here, and it’s why this story is the Rotten Idea of the Week: Darkseid also happens to look a lot like Thanos. Or rather, Thanos (introduced in 1973) looks a lot like Darkseid (introduced in 1970). Which came first in the comic books may not matter as much when we’re talking about these movies, however, since non comics fans may not know who Darkseid is, but if they didn’t race for the exits at the end of The Avengers, they have at least seen the face of Thanos. In the end, this might just be another argument for Marvel’s strategy. Marvel still has four more movies yet to continue to lay groundwork, while Warner Bros and DC Comics only have Man of Steel (…that we know of).
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.