This week’s Ketchup includes development headlines for movies that include new roles for Sandra Bullock, Steve Carell, Jennifer Lawrence, and the young stars of Thor, Warm Bodies, and Beasts of the Southern Wild.
This Week’s Top Story
GAME OF THRONES STAR TO PLAY BIG BAD IN X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
Peter Dinklage is an example of an actor who is slowly ascending to marquee star status through a consistent career of excellent performances, including roles in indies like The Station Agent, and possibly most famously in the HBO series Game of Thrones. This week, Peter Dinklage landed the role as the main villain (actually, “antagonist” was how it was worded, which can read how one wants) in next year’s big superhero entry X-Men: Days of Future Past. Peter Dinklage also happens to be a dwarf, so many fans were quick to guess that he might play a character like Puck of Alpha Flight (who really doesn’t have an obvious role in this story), or perhaps would replace Ray Park as a rebooted Toad. That last guess might have worked, as the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants do indeed play a central role in the original “Days of Future Past” storyline. Toad, however, is not what anyone could call the main antagonist. And so, for now, we’re left to guess who exactly Peter Dinklage might play.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 SANDRA BULLOCK TO VOICE EVIL VILLAIN IN RETRO ’60S SPINOFF MINIONS
This week, we learned a lot more about the Despicable Me spinoff Minions via the voice casting of Sandra Bullock as the film’s main villain Scarlet Overkill. Bullock’s character will be a 1960s-era character that visually resembles Audrey Hepburn, and is one of a series of villains throughout history that the little yellow Minions have assisted before ever teaming up for Gru of the first movie. Universal Pictures will release Minions on December 19, 2014.
#2 OF BEAST AND BIRDSONG
Following the critical and box office success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, there much courting in Hollywood of that film’s director Rupert Wyatt. The project that Wyatt has decided to make his next is not one of those more obvious franchise entries, but is instead an adaptation of a historical romance novel set during World War I. Birdsong, based on a novel by Sebastian Faulks, will tell the story of a young officer who falls in love with a much older married woman. It should be noted here that BBC and PBS produced a two-part TV miniseries based on the novel in 2012. Nicholas Hoult, who as a child starred in About a Boy, and more recently has costarred in X-Men: First Class and Warm Bodies, has signed on to play the young male lead in the feature film adaptation, which will be filmed later this year and is expected to be released in the fall of 2014.
#3 CHRIS HEMSWORTH AND DIRECTOR MICHAEL MANN TEAM UP FOR CYBER ATTACKS MOVIE
It’s getting close to four years now since the release of the last movie directed by Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider). Mann’s next feature film will be a currently untitled thriller produced by Legendary Pictures that somehow involves cyber attacks and threats, and possibly, cyber terrorism. Mann worked on the script with Morgan Davis Foehl, who is also currently working on adapting the Mass Effect video game franchise into a feature film. Chris Hemsworth, who is most famous for playing Thor on the big screen, has signed on to star in this untitled thriller to fill up the time that he had originally planned on spending starring in Steven Spielberg’s currently postponed action movie Robopocalypse.
#4 SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK TRIO REUNITES FOR ABSCAM DRAMA
The three names most associated with Oscar contender Silver Linings Playbook — Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and director David O. Russell — will all reunite on the currently untitled Abscam scandal drama formerly known as American Bullsh*t. The third piece that completed this triangle (of sorts) is Jennifer Lawrence, who signed on this week to play the wife of the character played by Christian Bale (who also previously worked with Russell in The Fighter). Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are also costarring. This will actually be Cooper and Lawrence’s third film together, as they also costarred in the upcoming independent film Serena.
#5 MYSTERIOUS HUGH LAURIE TO PLAY MYSTERIOUS VILLAIN IN MYSTERIOUS TOMORROWLAND
We still don’t know much about director Brad Bird’s (The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) mysterious Tomorrowland (AKA 1952) which Walt Disney Pictures is expecting to be one of their highest profile releases of 2014. Among the non-mysteries is that George Clooney will be starring in it, and that it’s been compared to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, except that such a comparison is not necessarily intended to be literal. This week, Hugh Laurie (TV’s House M.D.) signed on to play the film’s villain, but since we don’t really know much else, what exactly that means… is, as mentioned above, mysterious.
#6 STEVE CARELL TO STAR IN FBI WEDDING MOVIE
Universal Pictures has hired TV writer David Flebotte to work on an untitled “FBI wedding” comedy that Steve Carell will star in. The project is compared by the studio to Stakeout and My Best Friend’s Wedding, which probably means that it’s about a stakeout at somebody’s wedding. David Flebotte’s television work has included several episodes of Desperate Housewives, two episodes of Boardwalk Empire, and an episode of The Sopranos.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 THE ANNIE REMAKE LIVES THANKS TO THE ARRIVAL OF QUVENZHANE WALLIS
Will Smith’s idea of having his daughter Willow Smith star in a remake of the Broadway musical Annie was always going to have an expiration date due to the fact that there’s really a narrow window during which a child actress can credibly play that role. With Willow now being 12, the role is likely to go to the one actress that has emerged in the last year who is the most obvious choice for a movie which might hope to someday attract Oscar attention. That would be Quvenzhane Wallis, who earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance in the Terrence Malick-esque independent film Beasts of the Southern Wild. This story is not “Rotten” so much because of anything about a little 9 year old actress (though there’s certainly the question of whether or not Wallis can sing). Instead, it’s more about whether the world really needs a new Annie, a question that remains regardless of who’s involved creatively.
#2 MGM TAKES ON ANT-MAN WITH A REMAKE OF THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN
Although the studio doesn’t come right out and acknowledge the connection, it’s probably likely that the Marvel’s 2015 plans for Ant-Man are probably part of the reason for this story. After all, there’s still plenty of time for MGM to get their reboot of The Incredible Shrinking Man written, cast, filmed and in theaters in the next two years, and they would still beat Ant-Man to the punch by a few months. If there is a bit of bright news to this reboot, it’s that at least MGM hired the original source’s author Richard Matheson to adapt (with his son Richard Matheson, Jr.) The Incredible Shrinking Man for modern times. Now, instead of nuclear paranoia, the science behind the story will be more about modern concepts like nanotechnology. Going back to Ant-Man, it’s also worth noting that the comic that Dr. Henry Pym made his first appearance in, called “The Man in the Ant Hill!” does in fact read a lot like a short story inspired by… The Incredible Shrinking Man. But, that still doesn’t mean we need yet another remake of a science fiction classic, right?
#1 A CLASSIC DICKENS NOVEL GETS REMADE AS AN ADVENTURE MOVIE CALLED DODGE AND TWIST
Apparently inspired by the success of the recent Sherlock Holmes movies, Sony Pictures has started development on a Victorian Era adventure movie called Dodge and Twist, based upon characters created by Charles Dickens for his novel Oliver Twist. In this movie, the characters of Oliver Twist and The Artful Dodger will now be 20 years older, and partners in a grand scheme to steal the Crown Jewels. The script will be written by TV writer Cole Haddon, who also wrote the upcoming NBC drama series “based upon” Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Dodge and Twist is obviously more of a sequel than an actual remake, but it’s still sort of a (potentially on both counts) ridiculous and/or “rotten” idea. If Dodge and Twist is a success, expect to get other punny sequels to literary classics.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.