The year that was 2010 is coming to an end, and so it’s time to look back at the biggest news items of the year (in lieu of actual weekly movie news, which there isn’t much of around Christmas). This is also a chance to look forward, as most of the movies that were announced in 2010 are still in our collective futures. And so, here are twelve “Fresh Development” movie news items from the past year, one for each month, that also represent some of the biggest upcoming movies of the next few years.
In degrees of news stories, an element that makes for some of the biggest items is the unexpected. Christopher Nolan’s directing another Batman movie? Yeah, we sort of expected that. Martin Scorsese is directing an adaptation of a kids book called The Invention of Hugo Cabret? That, not so much. The movie’s title has since been shortened to just Hugo Cabret, and as reported here in January, filming has since wrapped on the European production about a boy who secretly lives within the walls of a busy 19th century Paris train station. Scorsese attracted an all-star cast to his first venture into the “family adventure” genre which includes Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, Christopher Lee, Chloe Moretz, Emily Mortimer and Ray Winstone. 13-year-old English actor Asa Butterfield, who is currently best known for starring in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (not as the titular boy, but as the boy’s German friend) may be in line to become one of the breakout stars of 2011 if Hugo Cabret is the critical and box office hit that it could be. Hugo Cabret will be co-distributed by Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros, and is scheduled for release in the USA on December 11, 2011. Martin Scorsese also made news this year with the casting of his upcoming mob movie The Irishman, which will include Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, all appearing in the same movie together for the first time.
Admittedly, the really big news item for Warner Bros’ planned reboot of the Superman franchise was the October hiring of director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, the upcoming Sucker Punch). However, October was a month full of big “Fresh” movie news, and February, well, wasn’t. But, really, the road to Snyder coming aboard the next Superman movie started with the news in February that Christopher Nolan had agreed to work with Warner Bros as a sort of artistic “godfather” to help the movie get going in a fashion appropriate to its potential. It was through Nolan that Warner Bros picked up a Superman story idea from screenwriter David S. Goyer (who received “story” credit for Nolan’s first two Batman movies, as well as the upcoming third film), who is also now cowriting the reboot with Nolan’s brother Jonathan Nolan. It’s also worth noting that one of the reasons Warner Bros hired the Nolans, Goyer and Snyder in a relatively quick manner this year is that the studio needs to start filming the Superman reboot by 2011. Otherwise, the studio risks losing the rights to the estates of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The Superman reboot is currently scheduled by Warner Bros for a release in December, 2012. Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises (scheduled for July 20, 2012), also made the news this year a few times. The most notable story was the casting of Inception costar Tom Hardy in an unknown role, possibly as one of the film’s villains.
A high profile biopic that has a lot of movie fans cautiously optimistic was first announced in March of this year. At the time, the first details that were revealed about the movie now known as J. Edgar (formerly Hoover) was that the story of the life of FBI founder and original director J. Edgar Hoover were just the producers and the screenwriter. Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar winning screenwriter of the biopics Milk and Pedro, was announced as working with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment. A month later, we learned that the star to play J. Edgar Hoover would be Leonardo DiCaprio, and that the movie would be Clint Eastwood’s next as director after this year’s Hereafter. The latest news for J. Edgar came just a few weeks ago, as Armie Hammer (The Social Network) and Charlize Theron are reportedly in talks to costar, respectively, as Hoover’s longtime companion Clyde Tolson and Hoover’s personal secretary Helen Gandy. Filming of J. Edgar begins in early 2011, and it may be released by Warner Bros in late 2011 as part of next year’s Oscar season.
This story has the distinction of actually appearing in the Weekly Ketchup twice this year (with a few more details the second time), and both times, it was the Top Story. In April, it was revealed that Ron Howard and Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment had entered into negotations with Universal Pictures and Weed Road (Jonah Hex, The Losers) to adapt Stephen King’s magnum opus, the series of novels known collectively as The Dark Tower. That deal was then confirmed during the slow post-Labor Day week in early September. The Dark Tower is a fantasy epic that combines elements of classic Old West cowboy themes with supernatural and fantasy elements, telling the story of the last member of an order of “gunslingers” descended from King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. Ron Howard will personally direct at least the first of three movies based upon books in the series, and also direct the first season of an NBC television series that will fill in the gaps in between each of the three movies. Coproducer Akiva Goldsman (Batman & Robin; cowriter of I, Robot, I Am Legend) will also write the first movie and the first season of the TV series. Given the massive scope of this project, it is probably a few years from actually getting started, but if all goes well, it’s possible we could see the first movie by sometime in 2013.
As I went back through the year looking for the freshest ideas each month, I was surprised to find a pretty significant initial announcement here in May that I myself as a movie fan had sort of forgot about. In all the press about The Social Network, the emphasis has been on director David Fincher’s next project being the English language adaptation of the late Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which he is currently filming). However, in May, David Fincher was also first mentioned as being hired by Walt Disney Pictures for a very different movie which has the potential of being the biggest production the already ambitious director has ever tackled. That project is Disney’s long-in-development plan to remake their 1954 hit movie based upon Jules Verne’s 19th century science fiction adventure novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The movie is admittedly at least a year away from filming, but the promise of Fincher working on a movie with the sort of epic scale that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea potentially could have is definitely something that we movie fans should not overlook.
The January news of Sam Raimi’s departure from the Spider-Man film franchise (and Sony’s subsequent decision to do a reboot) obviously left a big gaping hole in the director’s schedule. Raimi has long been attached to direct for Warner Bros an adaptation of the Warcraft video game franchise, but 2010 came and went without an official announcement of that movie project being greenlit. In June, the movie that emerged as Sam Raimi’s next was Walt Disney Pictures’ Oz: The Great and Powerful, a new spin on the classic L. Frank Baum character, to be played by Robert Downey Jr. Oz: The Great and Powerful is just one of many movies in active development that are somehow related to L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. Universal’s planned adaptation of the stage musical Wicked is probably the closest thematic relative (as both focus on a supporting character who isn’t Dororthy Gale). Oz: The Great and Powerful wasn’t however, the only project that Raimi’s name was associated with this year. There was also a rumor about a possible reboot of The Shadow, an adaptation of the futuristic cowboy comic book series Earp: Saints for Sinners, and the alien invasion movie EDF (Earth Defense Force) (which Raimi is producing but not directing).
This right here is probably the story that might be the most disputed by movie fans in the comments below. When Sony Pictures announced in January that they were scrapping plans for a fourth Spider-Man movie featuring Tobey Maguire, and going with a reboot of the franchise instead, I myself wrote up the story as the week’s Most Rotten Idea. That story included the news that the new director would be Marc Webb, whose (500) Days of Summer was one of the best movies (in my opinion) of 2009. However, it was difficult at the time to not be distracted by the concept of a successful franchise being “rebooted” less than eight years after it began. It is arguable that with the July announcement that American-British actor Andrew Garfield would be the new Peter Parker will ultimately be seen as the turning point for how the public perceives this reboot. Or perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that the October 1, 2010 release of The Social Network was that turning point. Looking back now, we can speculate that because the executives and producers at Sony/Columbia had seen The Social Network in July (but we had not), they knew exactly what they had in that movie’s memorable costar, Andrew Garfield (who played Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin). Of course, those were just two of the Spider-Man stories this year, which were followed by the casting of Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, the casting of Rhys Ifans as The Lizard, the casting of Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, the casting of Denis Leary as Captain Stacy, and well, a whole bunch more people too. The as-yet-untitled Spider-Man reboot is scheduled for release by Columbia Pictures on July 3, 2012.
August was admittedly a very quiet month in movie news, particularly when one limits the field to movie stories that one would consider “fresh developments.” Perhaps that’s a reflection of how August is itself perceived by Hollywood in terms of what movies are released in that month, as especially the later Fridays are often a “dumping ground” for movies that end up being “rotten.” One film that stood out in August was the announcement of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which appears to be as close to a complete “Oscar bait” movie as one could imagine getting made. The film will mark the first time that “America’s Sweethearts” Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock have ever costarred together, playing the parents of a 9-year-old child prodigy who goes on a personal journey through the five boroughs of New York City in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Director Stephen Daldry has only directed three movies (Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader) and all three earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director. The script was adapted from a novel by Safran Foer (Everything is Illuminated) by screenwriter Eric Roth, who won an Oscar for Forrest Gump, and was also nominated for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and for cowriting Munich and The Insider. Filming is scheduled to start in New York City in early January, and codistributors Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros are likely to try to get the movie in theaters in late 2011 in time for awards consideration.
Admittedly, the process of squeezing in twelve of the top “fresh” movie stories of the year to match all twelve months means that sometimes the date actually matches something more like the second biggest news item for a given movie. The question of who would star in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit as Bilbo Baggins was officially confirmed in October ( http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/hobbit-2010/news/1921059/weekly_ketchup_martin_freeman_cast_as_the_hobbit/ ). However, it was actually in September that we first heard ( http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/stephen_king_dvd_collector_set/news/1920697/weekly_ketchup_ron_howard_takes_on_the_dark_tower/ ) about Martin Freeman. Martin Freeman is not a household name in the U.S., but he might be recognizable as Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and supporting roles in Hot Fuzz and Love, Actually, and for the U.K. version of The Office. When Freeman was confirmed in October, his story also came along with the names of several of the actors who will be playing the members of Thorin’s Company of Dwarves. The large ensemble cast is still in the process of being fully cast, with the latest batch being announced two weeks ago ( http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/hobbit/news/1921465/weekly_ketchup_blanchett_to_appear_in_the_hobbit/ ). That latest list of names included Cate Blanchett, who will have a significant returning role as the elf Galadriel, despite the character not actually appearing in the original novel at all. Filming of the two parts of The Hobbit is scheduled to start in New Zealand in February, 2011, in preparation for the release of the two movies in December of 2012 and 2013, respectively.
This story actually got its story in September. At that time, Darren Aronofsky was first mentioned as being one of the directors talking to 20th Century Fox about the sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, along with David Slade (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, 30 Days of Night). As fantastic as the idea of Darren Aronofsky finally getting to make a big budget superhero movie seemed, however, many fans (and rightly so) most likely took the story with a grain of salt so big Logan would have a hard time cutting it down to size. That’s why the official announcement in October is where the newly-titled The Wolverine actually falls on this countdown. Written by Chris McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects; cowriter of Valkyrie), The Wolverine is described as being a movie that returns the most popular X-Men member to his roots as a dark, somber, intense and obviously violent character. The Wolverine is also the movie that will depict Logan’s time in Japan, following the events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It’s one thing to say that, but in hiring Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), 20th Century Fox accomplished the goal of sending that message to the fans. Martin Scorsese might be making kids movies now (well, one at least), but it’s unlikely Darren Aronofsky will be doing that anytime soon.
When Liam Neeson dropped out of Steven Spielberg’s long-planned Lincoln biopic this past July, it appeared at the time as if that might be the end of what has long been the director’s most cherished pet project. In November, however, another Irish actor joined the project, and it was an actor who’s appeared in less movies in the last 10 years than Liam Neeson has done in the last 10 months: Daniel Day-Lewis. Although Liam Neeson is also a talented actor, Daniel Day-Lewis is arguably in a completely different league (although being so picky about his roles undoubtedly helps Day-Lewis refine his reputation). Lincoln was adapted by playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America) from the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin’s book is about “the political collision of Lincoln and the powerful men of his cabinet on the road to abolition and the end of the Civil War.” Steven Spielberg also announced this year and then filmed the World War I movie War Horse. That movie will be released by Touchstone Pictures on December 28, 2011, just five days after the December 23, 2011 release by Paramount Pictures of The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn. Steven Spielberg is expected to start filming Lincoln in late 2011 in time for a late 2012 release date through Disney’s Touchstone Pictures.
Considering the post Thanksgiving lull and the fact that almost nothing happens for the last two weeks, December is for obvious reasons a month in which a lot less news emerges. The movie that lands in this spot actually had arguably “fresh” news in January and November as well, but well, December is the place where it fits best. The movie in question is the 23rd entry in the James Bond franchise. The December news is actually very similar to the news that first appeared in January, but the difference is everything that happened in between. In January, EON Productions announced that they had hired British filmmaker Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) as a “consultant,” possibly due to MGM’s financial straits at the time, and the question of whether they could officially announce him as the next director in the franchise. As positive as that news seemed, a week after Sam Mendes was confirmed by Barbara Broccoli as signing on to direct three months later, James Bond fans were struck a blow. EON announced in April that plans for the 23rd James Bond movie had been “indefinitely postponed.” Following that news, Daniel Craig signed on to star in director David Fincher’s English language remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. However, as MGM continues to emerge from its financial crisis in its new form, good news has returned to the Bond franchise. In November, a financial report listed the 23rd James Bond movie as being scheduled for a November, 2012 release date. This all leads to the recent December news that Kate Winslet has revealed that she plans to move back to England temporarily so that Mendes (from whom she is currently separated) can spend time with their children.
So there you have them, twelve of the freshest developments of 2010. Check back next week for the most rotten movie ideas of 2010.