The new year at the Weekly Ketchup gets started with a column that plays catch up with not just the last seven days, but the last three weeks. The previous two columns were dedicated to the Fresh Developments and Rotten Ideas of 2010. Among the movies that took advantage of the slow news cycles of the holiday season were The Dark Tower, Godzilla, The Hobbit and new movies starring George Clooney, Barbra Streisand and two of the costars of Knocked Up.
Last March, Warner Bros announced plans for a new American version of Godzilla, in conjunction with the movie monster’s Japanese makers Toho Co. Now, the studio has found the director for this blockbuster, and their choice is Gareth Edwards, the British director of the 2010 low-budget indie science fiction movie Monsters. Monsters was Edwards’ feature debut, and was always intended by the director to be a stepping stone to attract Hollywood’s attention for a bigger project. Movies don’t get much bigger, or more logically in line with Edwards’ sensibilities, than Godzilla. The producers at Legendary Pictures (Watchmen, Clash of the Titans, The Dark Knight) were “ga-ga” over Monsters, which Edwards also did the visual effects for, and so the Godzilla job is his. The next step will be for Gareth Edwards to work with a new screenwriter (who hasn’t been hired yet), replacing David Callaham (cowriter of Doom, The Expendables).
One of the biggest ongoing movie development stories of 2010 was the ambitious plans by Universal Pictures, Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment and NBC to adapt Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series as both a trilogy of movies and a TV series. The new year gets started with the search for the actor to play the Gunslinger himself, Roland Deschain. At this point, Ron Howard is considering several actors for the role, with Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) reportedly at the top of the list, with Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings) a close second. Universal Pictures has scheduled the first movie in the new franchise for May 17, 2013.
Last year’s Get Him to the Greek was a spin off movie for Russell Brand’s character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Now, Judd Apatow, who produced both of those movies, is applying the same approach to two of the better supporting characters from the 2007 hit Knocked Up. Leslie Mann (AKA Mrs. Apatow) and Paul Rudd costarred in Knocked Up as the sister and brother in law of Katherine Heigl’s character, and were portrayed as having marital trust issues. Judd Apatow has been quick to clarify this week that this untitled comedy is neither a prequel or sequel to Knocked Up, but is just a new story featuring those characters. There’s no word yet as to whether other characters from Knocked Up, such as those played by Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl will also make appearances. Judd Apatow is writing, directing and producing the untitled comedy, which will be his fourth movie as director after The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Funny People. Filming is scheduled to start in Los Angeles this summer, and Universal Pictures has scheduled it for a release date of June 1, 2012.
Depending upon one’s perspective of both The Hobbit and the way movies narratives are told, this story is either an obvious no-brainer or a shock and surprise. Elijah Wood has been confirmed to be cast once again as Frodo Baggins in director Peter Jackson’s two-movie adapation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The reason this may be surprising to some is that Frodo does not actually appear at all in The Hobbit, which is instead the story of his older cousin Bilbo Baggins (The Lord of the Rings was a sequel trilogy to The Hobbit, which was published first). Elijah Wood will be appearing as Frodo in the opening scenes, as Frodo starts to read Bilbo’s account of his adventures in the book that he wrote entitled The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. Bilbo himself will be played by Martin Freeman (Love Actually, The Office), reprising the role previously played in the Lord of the Rings movies by Ian Holm.
In the real world, George Clooney splits his time between a home in Los Angeles and a villa on Lake Como in Italy. Likewise, Clooney’s movie career and his future plans appear to be split between movies set in the United States and Italy (which is where his latest film The American was primarily set). The latest movie that George Clooney has attached himself to star in will return the actor to Italy, as the star of The Monster of Florence. The Fox 2000 movie will be an adaptation of the 2008 non-fiction book The Monster of Florence cowritten by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi. Preston and Spezi investigated the gruesome “Il Mostro” killings in Florence, Italy from 1968 to 1985, and in the process found themselves also suspected by Italian police. There’s no word yet as to who George Clooney will be playing, but the most likely role would appear to be that of Douglas Preston himself, if the adaptation follows the book’s blending of their investigations with the story of the murders as well. The Monster of Florence got its start as a movie adaptation in 2008 when Tom Cruise optioned the rights (planning to star in it himself at the time), but Cruise is no longer involved. The screenwriter that Cruise hired, however, Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects; cowriter of The Tourist) still is, along with his Valkyrie cowriter Nathan Alexander.
Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time) has signed on with Paramount Pictures to costar with Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. The dark action movie is set many years after the “traumatic childhood incident” that we all know as the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, when the adult siblings are now supernatural bounty hunters. Director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) plans to start filming Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters in Berlin, Germany on March 7, 2010. The movie is on a tight schedule, as it fits in the eight weeks between Renner wrapping up his role in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and his role as Hawkeye in The Avengers. Another reason that Paramount is racing to get the movie done quickly is that the studio wants to beat director Timur Bekmambetov’s adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (scheduled for June 22, 2012) to the punch. Depending upon how post production goes, Paramount may be planning to release Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters either around October, 2011 or in January of 2012.
Although it has now been over 25 years since Yentl (during which she’s only appeared in five movies, two of which had the word Fockers in the title), singer/actress Barbra Streisand got her movie career started with a string of movie musicals. Starting with Funny Girl in 1968, Barbra Streisand also starred in Hello, Dolly!, the sequel Funny Lady and the 1976 remake A Star is Born. Now, Barbra is in talks with Warner Bros to finally return to the genre in a planned remake of Gypsy, based on the Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical, and the memoirs of striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. Thankfully, the 68-year-old crooner will not be starring as Gypsy herself, but as her mother Rose, who was played in the 1962 film by Rosalind Russell. The character of Rose Hovick is a classic example of a “stage mom,” as she presses her young daughter to become an entertainer. There is no word yet as to which young actress would star as Gypsy herself. The deal is far from a done deal at this point, and there is not yet a script or director attached to the project, which would be produced by Joel Silver, who is usually more associated with steering the action franchises Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Predator and The Matrix. Admittedly, there is surely a fanbase out there who would love to see Streisand return to movie musicals. However, this is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because Gypsy as a modern remake (especially under Silver’s production) seems more likely to resemble something like Burlesque or Showgirls.
The video game company Electronic Arts is developing a movie project inspired by the Madden Curse, the belief that any NFL player that appears on the cover of one of their Madden games will soon suffer from some sort of injury or decline in performance. At this point, there is not yet any writer, director or movie studio actually attached to work on Madden Curse, but Electronic Arts hopes that someone will come aboard to make the movie a reality. Rather than be about an athlete, the planned movie would be about a “a former Madden video game champion who is forced out of retirement just as he finds himself on the corner of the game’s cover — and subject to the curse.” That premise alone is a bit Rotten, because it’s difficult to imagine that EA would ever produce a Madden game with a video game player on its cover. O.J. Simpson has a better chance of being on a Madden cover than that ever happening.
Universal Pictures is proceeding with its plans with Hasbro to adapt the company’s board games into actual big budget movies. Battleship is currently filming and is scheduled for a May 18, 2012 release date, and the next project up will be Ouija, which Universal has scheduled for November 12, 2012. Universal has begun negotations with director Joseph McGinty Nichol, AKA McG (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator: Salvation) to make Ouija his next movie after the recently wrapped comedy This Means War. Ouija is based upon the long-produced “talking board game” which some people believe allows the users to communicate with supernatural spirits. If McG signs on, filming is scheduled to start on the “supernatural action adventure” this summer. The Ouija script was adapted by screenwriters Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, who are best known for writing several episodes of LOST and for cowriting TRON: Legacy. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas mostly because Universal and Hasbro’s “board game movie” plans seem to be based more on repopularizing aging brand names than an engaging narrative (since the Ouija game by itself has none).
A year ago, many fans were cautiously optimistic about M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but now the movie is seen as one of the biggest critical and box office bombs of 2010. The year before, Dragonball: Evolution likewise did very poorly. And yet, Hollywood continues to develop live action movies based upon similar animated action/adventure TV series. The latest example is Bakugan, which Universal Pictures is developing, based upon the strategic figures/card game and the animated TV series Bakugan Battle Brawlers. Universal Pictures has hired director Harald Zwart (Agent Cody Banks, The Pink Panther 2) to start work on Bakugan. Harald Zwart is at a good place in his career currently, coming off the surprise summer success of his remake of The Karate Kid. There is currently no screenwriter attached to adapt Bakugan Battle Brawlers as a movie, but Harald Zwart will most likely be involved in finding and working with a screenwriter soon. Zwart is also executive producing a movie adaptation of the PC video game series RollerCoaster Tycoon. Bakugan has earned the spot as the Most Rotten Idea of the last few weeks based mostly on the lackluster results from previous recent attempts to adapt shows like Bakugan into live action movies.