This week coming off the end of San Diego Comic-Con lacked some of the big names seen in a typical week. But, hey, that just left room for two different remakes of Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, as well as remakes of The Butterfly Effect, and a Rocky spinoff focusing on Apollo Creed’s grandson. Every thing old is new again.
This Week’s Top Story
FROM FRUITVALE STATION TO GETTING THE EYE OF THE TIGER BACK: THE ROCKY SPINOFF CREED
For several years now, MGM has been the studio most regarded as something of a remake factory. MGM has the rights to many classic films, and rather than sequelizing them (which wouldn’t be lauded much either), MGM does lots and lots of remakes. Fame, The Taking of Pelham 123, and the upcoming Carrie, RoboCop and Poltergeist remakes… That’s all MGM. This story, however, sees the studio reviving one of their biggest franchises (possibly second only to their continuing James Bond franchise), but not as a remake or a true sequel. The Rocky franchise is getting a spinoff movie called Creed, about the boxing career of the grandson of Rocky and Rocky II opponent Apollo Creed. MGM is in early talks with both director Ryan Coogler — currently in theaters with his debut film, the true story of Fruitvale Station — and, for the title character, with that film’s star, Michael B. Jordan, who appeared last year in Chronicle, and is rumored to be in talks to play the new Johnny Storm in the 2015 reboot of The Fantastic Four. Sylvester Stallone is also expected to reprise his role as Rocky Balboa as the new Creed’s trainer. For reasons obvious to anyone who ever saw Rocky IV, Carl Weathers is probably less likely to appear in the new Creed. Ryan Coogler will cowrite Creed with Aaron Covington, but which Aaron Covington it will be is anyone’s guess (who knew there were so many in Hollywood?).
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 ROSAMUND PIKE LANDS TITLE ROLE IN DAVID FINCHER’S GONE GIRL
After Ben Affleck was cast as the male lead in director David Fincher’s next film, the Gillian Flynn novel adaptation Gone Girl, the next obvious step was casting the title character. That process reportedly included consideration of Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman, Emily Blunt, Abbie Cornish, and Olivia Wilde. This week, we learned that the actress to actually land the role was Rosamund Pike, who isn’t a household name yet in the USA, but has been seen in a variety of films, including Die Another Day, Wrath of the Titans, and last year’s Jack Reacher. Rosamund Pike will play a woman who disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary, leading to suspicion of her husband (Ben Affleck). Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry are also being considered for other roles. Filming starts in September. Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) chose Gone Girl as his next film after deals fell apart on some of his other projects, including the Disney action remake 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the sequel The Girl Who Played with Fire.
#2 BEN FOSTER TO CYCLE INTO THEATERS AS LANCE ARMSTRONG
It’s fairly typical for a hot button subject to inspire various projects from competing studios and producers, and in most cases, whichever one actually starts filming first “wins” the race, such as it were. (It’s less common that one of the projects keeps going regardless, but that obviously also happens, as Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down most recently demonstrated). In the months after the revelations of Lance Armstrong’s doping came out, his story quickly became one such hot project. Previously, most of the news has gone to projects from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Paramount (which Bradley Cooper may have been in talks for), and another from Recount and Game Change director Jay Roach. Today, we learned that the dark horse contender that may actually “win the race” is one from British production company Working Title. Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity) is attached to direct, with American actor Ben Foster in final talks to play Lance Armstrong. Ben Foster has built up a strong list of supporting roles, including playing a baddie in the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, and roles in the Marvel movies X-Men: The Last Stand (as Angel) and The Punisher (as Spacker Dave). Presumably, Ben Foster also knows how to ride a bike. Working Title expects to start filming their untitled Lance Armstrong movie this fall.
#3 MELISSA MCCARTHY TO REUNITE WITH BRIDESMAIDS/THE HEAT DIRECTOR FOR SPY COMEDY SUSAN COOPER
Melissa McCarthy is in talks to make a third movie with director Paul Feig after their first two movies together (Bridesmaids and The Heat) were both critical and box office hits (the first more than the second, but still). Their third movie together will be a spy comedy called Susan Cooper, which is being compared to the 2006 James Bond reboot Casino Royale. One has to presume they mean if there was already a successful movie franchise about a heavy set female spy (or maybe that they’re pretending that there is, and that’s half of the joke).
#4 GWYNETH PALTROW AND EWAN MCGREGOR MAY JOIN JOHNNY DEPP IN MORTDECAI
After contract disputes caused the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass to stall, Johnny Depp recently moved on to star in the novel adaptation Mortdecai instead, which will be directed by David Koepp (Secret Window, Premium Rush). This week, we learned that Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor are also now in talks to join Johnny Depp in the film. The story of Mortdecai will depict “an antihero art dealer and rogue who is in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold.”
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#5 JAMES MCAVOY TO PLAY FRANKENSTEIN TO DANIEL RADCLIFFE’S IGOR
One has to wonder if James McAvoy knows what he just got himself into, now having to spend years of his life explaining for the umpteenth time the difference between Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s Monster. He’ll just have to console himself with the swimming pool he can probably afford to fill with cash from paychecks for movies like this week’s news and X-Men: First Class. Anyway, yes, James McAvoy is in talks with 20th Century Fox to play the title character, Dr. Victor Von Frankenstein, in their modern reboot of Frankenstein. Daniel Radcliffe has already been attached for a few months to costar as the scientist’s assistant Igor. Frankenstein will be directed by Paul McGuigan (Push, Wicker Park, Lucky Number Slevin), whose mostly “Rotten” RT Tomatometer page is really the reason this movie remains a “Rotten Idea” whenever new stories break.
#4 THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT REMAKE TO PROBABLY CHANGE MORE THAN JUST ONE LITTLE THING
Like basically any year (ever), there will be many anniversaries “celebrated” in 2014. One that most people probably wouldn’t think of is the tenth anniversary of the release of The Butterfly Effect. Then again, most people aren’t the producers of The Butterfly Effect, like the Benderspink production company do. So, Benderspink has announced plans to reunite with writer-director Eric Bress on a “reboot” of The Butterfly Effect, once again telling the story of a young man who is able to travel back in time within his own past, and make changes that have unexpected impacts on his present. Yes, that’s right, just like Alanis Morrissette’s “Ironic”, The Butterfly Effect wasn’t really about “The Butterfly Effect” at all. Although Eric Bress is on board the project, he won’t himself be directing the reboot, but we don’t yet know exactly will get to relive his experience.
#3 SONY DEVELOPS GRAN TURISMO VIDEOGAME ADAPTATION MOVIE
As the Fast and the Furious franchise continues to bring in huge box office numbers with each new release, the other studios that are not Universal Pictures are developing their own fast cars properties. This week, apparently, someone at Sony Pictures realized that SOE owns the rights to the Gran Turismo videogame franchise. In the games, which have pretty much no narrative structure at all, players pick real life cars and then drive them around realistic looking race tracks and other racing settings. A true adaptation of Gran Turismo would probably be a ninety minute IMAX documentary of a faceless driver taking a series of cars through scenic races. Instead, Sony has set the producers of the upcoming mommie-soft-porn adaptation Fifty Shades of Grey to see about getting Gran Turismo going as an actual movie, with a script and actors and everything. Disney’s Touchstone Pictures will be release their own racing videogame adaptation Need for Speed on March 14, 2014.
#2 THIS WEEK IN JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME REMAKES: BLOODSPORT AND KICKBOXER
I’m clearly not a Hollywood producer. I would never get up in the morning, and say, “Hey, you know what the world needs? Another Kickboxer.” And this is why I don’t have a job at Radar Pictures, the company behind movies like The Last Samurai and Riddick, which is now developing a new version of that one movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme where he provides the future inspiration for a running joke on Community. The Kickboxer remake project will be directed by Stephen Fung, whose Tai Chi Zero was a recent Chinese box office hit. Most weeks, one Jean-Claude Van Damme remake would be enough (actually, more than enough), but no, the week of July 22-July 26, 2013 just had to take it to that extra special extreme. And so, this was the week that we learned that the (previously announced) reboot of Bloodsport is also moving ahead, with director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin) now attached to the project.
#1 R.I.P. DENNIS FARINA (1944-2013)
If there was ever someone who proved F. Scott Fitzgerald wrong about second acts in American lives, it was Dennis Farina. Dennis Farina had a long, twenty year career as a Chicago cop before ever getting into show business, starting with a small role in the 1981 Michael Mann movie Thief. This led to a supporting role on Miami Vice, and two seasons as one of the leads in the innovative 1986-1988 TV series Crime Story (serialized storytelling spanning entire seasons? crazy talk!). Dennis Farina also went on, later in his career, to basically play Lennie Briscoe’s replacement for two seasons on Law & Order after the 2004 death of Jerry Orbach. For the purpose of this column and site, however, we should specifically remember Dennis Farina’s film career. Although his TV career was bookmarked by two lead roles, in movies, Dennis Farina was more of the colorfully rough supporting character type. From a classic phone conversation in Midnight Run to the awesome closing line of Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, Dennis Farina was frequently quotable. Farina’s other memorable roles included movies like Out of Sight, Get Shorty, and Manhunter. Our movie journey with Dennis Farina came to an end this week with his death in Scottsdale, Arizona of a blood clot on the lung. Dennis Farina was 69.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.