This week’s Ketchup includes movie development news stories for such films as Disney’s live action Cinderella, a remake of Flight of the Navigator, a Marvin Gaye biopic, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and the sixth movie based upon Marvel’s X-Men comic book characters. There’s also new roles for George Clooney, Charlize Theron, and Reese Witherspoon.
This Week’s Top Story
SEVEN FAMILIAR NAMES RETURN FOR THE VARIOUS TIMELINES OF X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
As fans of old school Marvel stories know, X-Men: Days of Future Past (the 2014 film) is based upon one of the earliest examples of time travel leading to complicated alternate realities, which in the 30+ years since, has inspired many similar arcs in other properties. As such, that classic story was sort of perfect for 20th Century Fox when the studio was looking for a way to connect the timelines of the prequel X-Men: First Class and the cast of their first three X-Men movies. And this week, that film’s director, Bryan Singer, sort of went crazy on Twitter, letting the world know about all the people who will be returning for X-Men: Days of Future Past in some capacity. That list includes two Magnetos (Sir Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender), two Xaviers (Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy), a Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and a Beast (Nicholas Hault). Barely 24 hours passed, and we learned of the seventh actor, which is Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, who, as we all know, changed his mind at some point about what he told Magneto and Professor Xavier to do to themselves in X-Men: First Class. 20th Century Fox has scheduled X-Men: Days of Future Past for July 18, 2014.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 CATE BLANCHETT CAST AS DISNEY’S NEXT EVIL STEPMOTHER
Walt Disney Pictures is well into a new series of live action fantasy adventures based upon classic books and folk stories, which started with Alice in Wonderland in 2010, and will continue in 2013 and 2014 with Oz: The Great and Powerful and the Sleeping Beauty adaptation Maleficent, respectively. If one expects an annual rate going forward, the next movie might be planned for 2015, and it appears that the movie in question might just be a (currently untitled) adaptation of Cinderella. The reason for expecting that the Cinderella movie is approaching production is that Cate Blanchett is now in talks to take on the role of Cinderella’s “evil stepmother” in that film. If Blanchett signs on, the evil stepmother will join the ranks of her other fantastic characters, such as Galadriel in the Tolkien adaptations, and the main villain in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Unless he directs another movie earlier, this Cinderella adaptation is likely to be the fourth feature film for director Mark Romanek, who made his studio debut in 2002 with One Hour Photo, which led to eight years of development hell on various projects before his second film, Never Let Me Go, was released in 2010. The most recent draft of the Cinderella adaptation was written by Chris Weitz, whose work as a screenwriter includes The Golden Compass, and cowriting credits on About a Boy.
#2 CHARLIZE THERON MAY ELICIT SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE
Filming is currently underway on Spike Lee’s English language remake of the South Korean thriller Oldboy, which features Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, and Samuel L. Jackson. Now, there’s casting news for another remake of one of the movies (directed by Park Chan-wook) from the same trilogy as Oldboy, although the two films are otherwise unrelated. Charlize Theron will produce and star in an adaptation of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (released in the US as simply Lady Vengeance), about a woman “who, for reasons of her own, completes a prison term for a murder she did not commit, reemerging to punish the killer, and avenge the dead.” Warner Bros is also developing an English language remake of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, which was the first film of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, but might actually be the last of the three remakes to be adapted. The screenplay adapting Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is being written by screenwriter William Monahan, who previously adapted an Asian thriller when he worked on The Departed for Martin Scorsese, and Monahan also recently cowrote the sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
#3 GEORGE CLOONEY TO HEADLINE NEW YORK CRIME SYNDICATE DRAMA
It was just last week that the news broke that director Paul Greengrass was back in development on the “final days of MLK” drama Memphis. That, however, didn’t necessarily mean that Memphis would be Greengrass’ next film as director, and so here we are nine days later with another project for the director of United 93, The Bourne Ultimatum, and next year’s Somali pirate thriller Captain Phillips. George Clooney is signed to produce and star in an untitled crime drama that has something to do with “New York crime syndicates” which, when one starts to really think about it, is borderline annoyingly vague. The screenplay is an original story, and it was written by Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio. Clooney also recently signed on to star in director Brad Bird’s equally mysterious science fiction project 1952.
#4 THE “BELOVED” PROPERTY THE SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED DIRECTOR WAS TALKING ABOUT WAS… FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR
Recently, director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) attracted a lot of attention from a quote he made about tackling a property that would get him a lot of heat online. The problem was that people misinterpreted that to mean he was up for the job of directing Star Wars Episode VII. This week, we found out what movie (or, rather, what remake) he was actually talking about, and in comparison to Star Wars, this movie really doesn’t come anywhere close. Colin Trevorrow and his Safety Not Guaranteed screenwriter Derek Connolly have signed with Walt Disney Pictures to work on a remake of their 1986 science fiction film Flight of the Navigator, about a boy who finds himself transported to the future after discovering an alien spacecraft. The time travel element is particularly of note considering what Safety Not Guaranteed is ostensibly about (ie, possibly/probably time travel). Trevorrow and Connolly have also sold another spec script to Disney, but nothing is known about that one right now. Likewise, there is a third film that Derek Connolly has sold to Pixar which will be the feature film debut of director Teddy Newton, who previously directed the Pixar short film Day for Night. As for why the Flight of the Navigator remake is a Fresh Development, it’s sort of the same reason why Trevorrow was being overly cautious in his veiled comments. Simply put, Flight of the Navigator is not as rabidly protected by the fan community at large as Trevorrow seemed to think, and so the idea of it being remade? Sure, why not? The result might actually be better the second time around.
#5 WHAT’S GOING ON WITH LENNY KRAVITZ AND THE MARVIN GAYE BIOPIC?
Rocker (and son of Roxie Roker from The Jeffersons) Lenny Kravitz has had a few small movie roles, most notably in Precious and The Hunger Games. However, so far, Kravitz has yet to have an entire movie to carry as the lead character. That may change if director Julien Temple (Earth Girls are Easy, The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle) is able to get the pieces together to make his Marvin Gaye biopic, Midnight Love, actually happen as a finished and produced film. Such a caveat is usually required when it comes to musical biopics, which have a particularly low rate of production versus the number of movies that get announced via the film business’ press. For confirmation of that fact, one needs go no further than director Cameron Crowe, who himself has been trying to get a completely separate Marvin Gaye biopic going, with Terrence Howard among those up for the lead role.
#6 THIS WEEK IN GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY NEWS: STAR-LORD CASTING CONTENDERS, AND THE CASE OF THE TWO YEAR OLD BLOG
Let’s get the bigger of the two news items concerning Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy out of the way, by pointing out something that should have been caught months ago. Let’s look at the timeline: Way back in February of 2011, director James Gunn posted a blog entitled “The 50 Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With: 2nd Annual Poll Results“, which included some homophobic remarks (look at the #5 entry about Gambit, for an example). And then, in September of 2012, Gunn was confirmed as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy, and it wasn’t until this week that the blog entry, nearing its 2nd anniversary, became controversial. At question here might not be whether Gunn’s remarks were offensive, but whether Marvel should have done their research well enough to know that this would eventually be revealed, and possibly cause problems for their production of what is already an obscure and challenged adaptation to begin with. And with that, let’s turn now to the other quasi-news for Guardians of the Galaxy this week, which is that several actors have (or will soon have) tested for the lead role as Peter Quill, AKA “Star-Lord.” That list includes (in alphabetical order) Joel Edgerton (Uncle Owen from the prequels), Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy), Jack Huston (Richard Harrow from Boardwalk Empire), James Marsden (Cyclops from the first three X-Men movies), Lee Pace (TV’s Pushing Daisies), Eddie Redmayne (Marius from the upcoming Les Miserables), Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom), and Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe). The Marvel casting people may have recently watched both Animal Kingdom and The Other Boleyn Girl, as both of those movies feature two of the above actors (Edgerton/Stapleton, and Redmayne/Sturgess, respectively). At least 7 of those 8 actors will definitely be landing the role, which sort of illustrates the empty, non-story-ness of these sort of “casting call” stories.
#7 THE 2013 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL UNVEILS A HANDFUL OF YOUR FUTURE FAVORITES (AND ABOUT 100 MOVIES YOU’LL NEVER ACTUALLY SEE…)
(…and the tricky part is there’s no way of knowing which movies are which.) Yes, yes, indeed, January of another year is just around the corner, and so it’s that time again for the Sundance Film Festival to announce the list of 100+ independently produced films which will be screened beneath the icy peaks of Park City, Utah. There’s really not enough space in this column to get anywhere close to a thorough summary of all the films that will be screened. So, instead, this writer just wants to address one specific category, which is the “Park City at Midnight” selection. Historically, it’s the Midnight films that are the most “mainstream” and/or “box office friendly” films, so if one makes a guess as to which Sundance films will actually get distribution and be seen by a larger audience, this writer thinks the Midnight films are where you should look first. Some of the movies that have premiered in that category in the past have included Black Dynamite, The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and Saw, two of which obviously led to long running horror franchises. This year’s Park City at Midnight selection includes the horror spoof Hell Baby from writer/directors Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, the horror sequel S-VHS, and the video game action comedy Virtually Heroes, about two characters in a first person shooter who become aware that they’re in a game (basically a live action Wreck-It Ralph with R-rated jokes). Collider.com has several entries with photos and full listings in every announced category for your perusal, so head on over there.
Rotten Idea of the Week
#2 MGM REMAKING HORROR MOVIE EVEN HORROR FANS WOULD BE CHALLENGED TO REMEMBER: THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN
Here’s a fun experiment that I’m pretty sure absolutely no one will actually take me up on. Take ten horror movie fans, and ask them to list their 100 favorite movies of the genre. My guess is that absolutely no one will pick the 1976 slasher flick The Town That Dreaded Sundown, the third movie from director Charles B. Pierce (The Legend of Boggy Creek). John Carpenter’s Halloween is often credited for inspiring the wave of slasher films that came soon after, but The Town That Dreaded Sundown was pretty clearly inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (and also, it came out two years before Halloween). Like Tobe Hooper’s 1974 film, The Town That Dreaded Sundown involved a place with the same first four letters (Texarkana, Arkansas), and alluded to being based on a true story. Anyway, the story here is that MGM has plans for a remake of The Town That Dreaded Sundown. The “Rotten” part of this story doesn’t have so much to do with whether that particular movie gets remade, but rather with the fact that MGM these days seems dedicated to being the Studio of the Remake (see also: RoboCop, Poltergeist, etc.). We’re just a week past the release of the Red Dawn remake, which might be more unnecessary than… just about anything, but still, the world can’t be crying for a remake of The Town That Dreaded Sundown when it doesn’t even know the movie existed to begin with.
#1 REESE WITHERSPOON AND NAOMI WATTS CAST AS (MUCH YOUNGER) REAL LIFE WOMEN
Reese Witherspoon and Naomi Watts both came up in completely unrelated movie news stories this week that actually have something very specific in common. In both cases, the creative types stressed the ages of the real life subjects, and in both cases, Reese Witherspoon (36) and Naomi Watts (44) are clearly about 15 years too old for their roles. First, let’s discuss Reese Witherspoon, who has landed the lead role in an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. The memoir will be adapated by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Nick Hornby (An Education), who as an author also wrote the movie-inspiring novels High Fidelity, Fever Pitch, and About a Boy. The true story is about a woman whose mother has recently died, and with her marriage in shambles, who decides to hike the 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. The sticking point, however, is that when all of this happened, Cheryl Strayed was only 22, which Reese Witherspoon hasn’t been since around the time she filmed 1999’s Election. Similarly, there’s director Andrew Dominik, who’s out there talking about Killing Them Softly, who was also asked by Collider.com about his plans for a Marilyn Monroe biopic called Blonde. Within two sentences of saying that the actress would have to be in her late 20s because Monroe died at 36, Dominik said that the actress he’s hoping to cast will be Naomi Watts. To use the same math, the last time Naomi Watts was in her late 20s, she was still a couple of years from being cast by David Lynch in the 2001 film Mulholland Drive. Obviously, actors and actresses frequently play characters of different ages, both younger and older, but especially in the case of the Marilyn Monroe project, the irony is that the person making the decision seems not even to know the age of the actress he’s making such a fine point of being important. So, this week, silly decisions about age land both of these movies as the week’s Most Rotten Ideas. Now, just watch… in 2014, Reese Witherspoon and Naomi Watts will probably be up against each other for Best Actress Oscars.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.