This week’s Ketchup covers a slow movie development news week as Hollywood collectively prepared for the long Memorial Day weekend to come. Included in the mix are new roles for two of the stars of Game of Thrones, sequel news for Red 3, and a new role for one of the stars of that franchise, Morgan Freeman. All that and a remake of Timecop.
This Week’s Top Story
FOX ENGAGES MARVEL IN THE GREAT QUICKSILVER RUSH OF ’13: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST VS THE AVENGERS 2
This week gave us a pretty solid example of why maybe it’s not always the best thing for the creatives involved in highly anticipated genre projects to try to give the “fans” all of the hot details about movies that haven’t even started filming yet. Those who have been following The Avengers 2 closely will remember that in the last couple of weeks, Joss Whedon first hinted, and then confirmed, that he was planning on using the sibling heroes Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who are also the mutant children of Magneto. And it’s that last point that might have been a reason for Joss Whedon to hold off on revealing his plans until after a certain 20th Century Fox movie finished filming. Because, sure enough, director Bryan Singer revealed this week that a young actor named Evan Peters has been cast as the super speedster Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Almost overnight, Quicksilver has gone from being a Marvel superhero that most non-comic book fans have probably never heard of to being a potential major stumbling block for The Avengers 2. The question for Joss Whedon is whether he just ignores the X-Men use of the character, or does a last minute rewrite to replace Quicksilver with some other character (or maybe just uses Scarlet Witch by herself instead of half a sister-brother team). Speaking of which, when the Scarlet Witch news first broke, there was talk that Marvel Studios was using actress Saoirse Ronan (The Host, The Lovely Bones) as the model for casting (ie, trying to get actresses “like” Saoirse Ronan). Or maybe they could just cast Saoirse Ronan. The question was posed to the actress this week, and her reply was, “Yeah, of course I would. I love Joss and I love those films, and I love his handle on them and how he portrayed these kinds of superheroes…. So yeah, I’d love to be in it.” The hex bolt is back in Marvel’s corner. X-Men: Days of Future Past is scheduled for July 18, 2014, some ten months before the May 1, 2015 release date for The Avengers 2.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 PETER DINKLAGE AS HOP FROG WILL BE BATTERED AND BRUISED, BUT THE KING WILL BE AMUSED
Somewhere out there there is someone who can get that reference sans Google. Anyway, in what may be a case of casting destiny, Peter Dinklage has signed on to play a court jester (sort of) in the Edgar Allan Poe adaptation Hop Frog. Dinklage will play a puppeteer who poses as a court jester to get his revenge on the knights who murdered his uncle and kidnapped the woman he loves. Hop Frog will be directed by Mark Palansky, whose only RT Tomatometer entry is the 2006 film Penelope, which only scored a mixed rating of 53%. However, this is a movie in which Peter Dinklage (arguably the actor that makes Game of Thrones work) actually gets to star and be awesome for the entirety of a movie, and so, that sort of tips the scale back towards this being a Fresh story. It’s a weak week, so it’s even the top one.
#2 FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA TO DIRECT ANOTHER 20TH CENTURY ITALIAN AMERICAN FAMILY EPIC
The down side to directing two of the greatest films in American cinematic history when you’re 33 and 35 is that there’s a very good chance that the rest of your life will be spent never quite living up to that accomplishment. That specific example is Francis Ford Coppola, who directed The Godfather and The Godfather Part II in 1972 and 1974 (which makes him born in 1939, which becomes important in this story very soon). After years spent trying to get an ambitious movie called Megalopolis made, Coppola ended up spending the last decade directing little movies like Youth Without Youth, Tetro, and Twixt. For his next film, Coppola may finally be returning to his roots, as it will be about an Italian American family set across the span from the 1930s to the 1960s. The untitled drama is also said to be a coming-of-age story that focuses on a boy and girl in their late teens. Now, let’s go back and consider that Coppola himself was born in 1939, which suggests that the boy in question might be himself (Coppola was in his late teens in the late 1950s). Francis Ford Coppola has set up a production office on the Paramount Pictures lot, but as of right now, the studio behind The Godfather is not directly involved.
#3 BANDERAS, SHEEN, AND PAULO FROM LOST HEADLINE THE CHILEAN MINERS DRAMA THE 33
Most of the big announcements at Cannes happened last week, but there’s a few stragglers. One of them concerns The 33, the previously announced drama about the Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days back in 2010. We now know who three of the stars of that movie will be. The headliner will be Antonio Banderas, who will play the charismatic miner Mario Sepulveda, known to his coworkers as “Super Mario” (no word yet as to whether he wears red overalls). The cast will be an ensemble, and two of those actors will be Martin Sheen and Rodrigo Santoro, who played Xerxes in 300, but is more recognizable to LOST fans as Paulo from Season 3. The 33 will be directed by Mexican director Patricia Riggen.
#4 THIS WEEK IN SPY MOVIE NEWS: RED 3 AND TOM CRUISE DISOWNS HIS U.N.C.L.E.
The sequel Red 2 doesn’t open in theaters for another two months yet on July 19, but Summit Entertainment is already starting development on Red 3. The Lionsgate subsidiary is doing that by hiring screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber, who also worked on the first two movies. There’s no announced deals yet with any of the various franchise stars, such as Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, or Catherine Zeta-Jones. However, what is known is that Red 3 will involve the retired “black ops” agents teaming up to track down a loose portable nuclear device. Another (would be) spy franchise that hit a major obstacle this week is Warner Bros’ adaptation of the 1960s TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Tom Cruise was to have starred as the American spy Napoleon Solo (opposite Armie Hammer as his Russian counterpart), but this week, Tom Cruise dropped out completely to focus instead on Mission: Impossible 5. Warner Bros still hopes to start filming in the fall, but the hunt is back on because Tom is back on as (Ethan) Hunt.
#5 EMILIA CLARKE FROM GAME OF THRONES PLAYS SHAKESPEARE’S JULIET IN ROSALINE
This was a good week for fans of the stars of Game of Thrones, as Emilia Clarke (who plays Daenerys Targaryen) has been cast as Shakespeare’s Juliet in Rosaline. The title character will be played by Allison Williams (from HBO’s Girls), and will be the first girlfriend of Romeo (played by Dave Franco from 21 Jump Street), in a bit of revisionist storytelling that changes the focus in a style that’s being compared to the Broadway musical Wicked. Universal Pictures has picked up Rosaline from Fox 2000 out of turnaround. The script was written by the team of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who also worked on the Sundance hits (500) Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now.
#6 MORGAN FREEMAN AND DIANE KEATON STAR IN COMEDY LIFE ITSELF
Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton are signed to star in the “heartwarming comedy” Life Itself for director Richard Loncraine (Wimbledon, Richard III, The Special Relationship). Freeman and Keaton will play a long-married New York couple whose lives are disrupted when they become engaged in a bidding war for the sale of their apartment. Unfortunately, Life Itself will probably be released in an “off month” like February, April, or September, and three months later, most people will have forgotten the movie ever existed.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 LIAM HEMSWORTH TO TEST OUT AURORA RISING
Liam Hemsworth (from The Hunger Games and also Thor’s non-Loki brother) has been cast in the action movie Aurora Rising. Hemsworth will play a California surfer who becomes a military fighter pilot who is eventually recruited to be a test pilot for a new generation of aircraft just before a new international conflict begins. The script was written by screenwriter Christian Gudegast, cowriter of A Man Apart, and it’s that movie’s very low RT Tomatometer score that mostly justified this being one of the Rotten Ideas of the Week.
#2 ZAC EFRON IN NARC: NEITHER A RAY LIOTTA REMAKE OR AN ADAPTATION OF THE 1980S ARCADE GAME
20th Century Fox has acquired the life rights behind a true crime project called Narc, with Zac Efron attached to star. Narc will tell the true story of a college student who used his status as a fraternity president and la crosse team captain to become an informant for the local police narcotics team. Narc is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas mostly because of Zac Efron’s RT Tomatometer scores. However, as the story title alluded, it’s also because Narc was already the title of a pretty great Ray Liotta/Jason Patric movie. Go rent that one instead.
#1 REBOOTS ARE STILL A “THING”… NEXT UP: TIMECOP?
By this point, there’s almost no titles from the 1980s that haven’t either been remade/rebooted, or are lingering in development. And so, the next hot decade for this trend is the 1990s. And a movie that came out in 1994 was Timecop, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as a cop of time. Universal Pictures has started development on a remake of Timecop, and the funniest thing about this story might be how every story about it stresses that Jean-Claude Van Damme will not be involved in any capacity. Timecop also has the distinction of being one of those movies (like say, The Mask or Men in Black) that was technically based upon a comic book, but almost no one knew that at the time. Anyway, Timecop is pretty much exactly what you would expect it to be: it’s the distant future of 2004 where cops regulate the use of time travel, and there’s a bad guy who uses time travel for his nefarious deeds, and then JCVD kicks time traveling bad guys… IN THE FACE. And now it’s going to happen all over again.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.