First off, just a note and a link to say that technical issues prevented last week’s ketchup from being published in a timely manner. I’ve posted it to the RT Forums, however, if you want to go back and read it a few days late. Right. So, here’s this week’s best!
#1 ROBERT DOWNEY, JR TO PLAY COWBOYS & ALIENS
With Iron Man hitting the $300 million dollar week, Robert Downey, Jr. has been very busy, with his name being dropped in connection to several projects, with the latest being Cowboys & Aliens, a high concept action adventure “based upon a comic” (that few people have actually read, sort of how Men in Black was “based upon a comic”), about well, aliens and cowboys (and Native Americans too, actually). The title’s obscurity as an actual comic book (versus its profile as a major Hollywood project) was actually something that made the news last year. The director hasn’t been announced yet, but the screenwriters previously worked on Children of Men, and Universal and DreamWorks are hoping to get this joint production in theaters in the summer of 2010 (the same summer that Iron Man 2 is being targeted for). One of the other projects that Downey is rumored to be in contention for, by the way, is Guy Ritchie‘s new take on Sherlock Holmes.
#2 GEARS OF WAR GETS ITS GEARS IN GEAR
Also aiming for 2010 is the movie version of the popular XBox 360 videogame, Gears of War, which is a futuristic shooter about bugs invading Earth. And the very large men who kill them. Len Wiseman (Live Free or Die Hard) will be directing, from a script by Chris Morgan (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), and whatever part of Warner Bros that now handles the former New Line Cinema projects hopes to get the movie in theaters sometime in 2010. Except for DOOM, there really isn’t a big budget adaptation of a first person shooter to compare Gears of War to, except that I think in a way that it sort of fills the void that was left over when the HALO movie plans fell apart. Gears of War is also a lot like Starship Troopers, except on Earth. And probably with no Neil Patrick Harris.
#3 FROM GOTHAM TO NOTTINGHAM?
Confirmed completely awesome director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Blade Runner) is casting his next movie, a revisionist take on the legend of Robin Hood called Nottingham, and so, several names emerged this week. We already knew that Russell Crowe was going to star as the Sheriff of Nottingham (who in this version is basically a good guy, dealing with the crappy system of lord-over-serf politics that a medieval cop would have to work under). Confirmed to be co-starring is Sienna Miller as Maid Marion, who will be the feminine side of a romantic triangle between the Sheriff and Robin Hood. Where the casting as it now stands ventures slightly more into the “rumor” casting are the names that come to us from the U.K., bastion of (not that) reliable movie news coverage. According to The Daily Mail, Christian Bale is in talks to star as Robin Hood, and Vanessa Redgrave and William Hurt are also in talks for other roles. A reunion of the stars of the 3:10 to Yuma remake, especially in these iconic roles, sounds perfect… almost too good to be true. Here’s hoping it is. A portrayal of Robin Hood as more of an actual “Robbing Hoodlum” would also be an interesting way to follow up Bale’s first two Batman movies.
#4 MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. TO RETURN TO SELMA
Surprisingly buried in Variety this week was information about Selma, a drama about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s freedom marches in Selma, Alabama in the 1960s, and specifically the relationship between King and President Johnson, who signed the Voting Rights Act a few months later. As much of an icon as Reverend King is, 40 years after his death, we still do not have a modern Hollywood movie in which he is a major character (much less a proper biopic about MLK). Produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Productions, Selma is expected to start filming in early 2009, from a script by Paul Webb (cowriter of Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Lincoln biopic, a fitting association).
#5 DENNIS LEHANE’S MOVIE STREAK CONTINUES WITH THE GIVEN DAY
Author Dennis Lehane‘s novels have already been adapted as Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, and Martin Scorsese is currently working on a movie version of Shutter Island with Leonardo DiCaprio. Now, Sam Raimi has joined the Lehane express, signing on to produce (with an eye to direct) Lehane’s next novel, The Given Day (due in stores this fall), about Boston in 1919 as a confluence of events, including an influenza outbreak brought back by WWI soldiers and an impending police strike. The trade points out that Raimi is continuing to develop a revival of the Jack Ryan franchise at Paramount, and that Sony sees this Given Day deal as a way of continuing their relationship with the director of their very lucrative Spider-Man franchise.
#6 IT’S TIME FOR MORE TIME TRAVEL
Spike Lee (Summer of Sam, Inside Man) has signed on to write and direct a biopic called The Time Traveller about a modern day scientist who is devoting his life to seeing time travel become a reality within our collective lifetimes. Until someone goes back in time, gets the scientist interested in something else besides time travel, and therefore prevents him from ever inventing the time machine. Sorry, I just can’t help but point out the inherent paradoxes whenever someone actually talks about time travel as a reality. Travelling to the future, I might buy, but no way the past. In similar news, Universal has signed James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) on to direct The Archive, a time travel thriller about which we really don’t know much else, except that it’s from the screenwriter of Proof.
#7 J.J. ABRAMS READ A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE — FIVE DAYS LATER, IT’S A MAJOR HOLLYWOOD PROJECT“?
Last Thursday, the New York Times ran a piece about a family in New York City who commissioned an apartment filled to the rafters with Da Vinci Code-style puzzles and clues. By Tuesday the 17th (5 days later), producer J.J. Abrams had taken that article to Paramount big wigs, and developed a deal to produce Mystery on Fifth Avenue. Given the intricacy of the six-season-spanning mysteries on both LOST and Alias, it is by far not suprising that J.J. Abrams spotted this piece as potentially his next big mind twister. I’m just still surprised all this came together over the course of five days. That right there, I think will probably be an interesting story in itself. The newspaper clipping has been given to the screenwriters of this summer’s Rainn Wilson comedy, The Rocker, to expand into a 100+ page script.
#8 GEORGE LUCAS’ RED TAILS TO FINALLY TAKE FLIGHT
Following completion of the Star Wars prequels, George Lucas has said quite a bit about his plans to make smaller movies, including those that he would direct. Of those that he’s mentioned over the years, the highest profile project is probably Red Tails, a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, a very successful group of African American pilots during World War II. Except, it appears that George Lucas may not be directing Red Tails after all, as IGN reports ( http://movies.ign.com/articles/882/882483p1.html ) that Lucas (still wearing his producer hat) has been meeting with directors recently. Regardless, the plans are to start filming in late 2008 or early 2009 at locations that are currently being scouted in Italy and Prague, from a script by John Ridley (cowriter of Undercover Brother).
#9 DO YOU FEEL LUCKY, PUNK?
Concert promoter Frank J. Russo, who’s worked with Elvis, the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, is getting into the movie producing business with a mob biopic called Charlie Lucky, about famed mob boss Lucky Luciano. Although he doesn’t yet have a director, and the script is by a first timer, Russo has already hired Fred Caruso, the production manager of the Godfather movies, and has hired Bill Conti (the Rocky movies) to work on the score. In addition to depicting his rise to becoming one of the nation’s most powerful capos, Charlie Lucky will also feature Luciano’s feuds with other bosses and New York Governor Thomas Dewey, and his aide to General George Patton in finding the fastest routes through Sicily.
#10 YOU WILL BELIEVE AN OX CAN BE BLUE
With their first major CGI animated release, Igor, still a few months from release, the Exodus Film Group has signed the necessary CGI studio deals to start production next month on Bunyan & Babe, a comedy take on the classic American lumberjack folk hero, Paul Bunyan, and his companion, Babe the Blue Ox. John Goodman will be providing the voice of Paul Bunyan, while Kelsey Grammer will voice the film’s villain, an evil land owner. An interesting point that Variety piece makes is the concern on the part of the American producers about whether the French CGI company they’ve hired would be able to correctly adapt such an American folk hero.