This week’s Ketchup includes tons of news for The Hangover star Bradley Cooper and others, news of biopics based on the lives of Jackie Robinson and Elizabeth Taylor, and a few comic book movies that include Hawkman.
This Week’s Top Story
WARNER BROS. SURPRISES NO ONE AND STARTS WORK ON THE HANGOVER PART III
This past Memorial Day weekend, The Hangover Part II broke all sorts of box office weekends with $205 million worldwide in just five days, including the biggest opening ever for a comedy. So, it should surprise no one that Warner Bros has hired one of that film’s screenwriters to start work on The Hangover Part III, which is being seen as the final film in what will end up being a trilogy. Craig Mazin didn’t work on the original movie, but his other credits include Superhero Movie (which he has sole credit on) and cowriting duties on Senseless, Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4. There’s no firm confirmation on where the “Wolf Pack” will head next, but the popular consensus among the cast appears to be Amsterdam, which sort of completes a “party city” trifecta that began with Las Vegas and Bangkok. Craig Mazin also revealed this week his idea for how The Hangover Part III might end (though he might have been joking): “I think the third movie ends with Doug staring at a row of crosses in a graveyard. It’s everyone ? his wife, his family is dead, everybody from the first movie is dead. Somebody shows up and tells him his dog is dead.” The “Doug” that Mazin refers to is the character played by Justin Bartha who is mostly absent from the crazy events of the first two movies. The next step for Warner Bros will be to secure stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis (who are believed to have only been signed for one sequel), as well as director Todd Phillips.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 CASTING RUMORS FOR QUENTIN TARANTINO’S LATEST ARE LOOSE AND UNCHAINED
Twitter’s 140 character limit is a pox on anyone who wants details in their news scoops. This week, Tweets were twice aflutter about Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, about a slave who seeks revenge against his former Southern master. Normally, the Weekly Ketchup doesn’t repost rumors too often, but directors and movies like Quentin Tarantino and Django Unchained are special exceptions. First, there was a tweet from blogger Jeff Goldsmith (formerly of Creative Screenwriting magazine) announcing, “Leonardo DiCaprio WILL play villian Calvin Candie in Tarantino?s Django Unchained! QT wanted him for I.B. & now has him!” The I.B. that Goldsmith is referring to is, of course, Inglourious Basterds, which DiCaprio was at one time in talks to costar in. It should be noted that, as of this writing, nothing official has come out, so for now, the idea that Leonardo DiCaprio will play the villainous slave owner is just a rumor. Also in the rumor category, thanks to Twitter, is the idea that Idris Elba (Stringer Bell in The Wire, Heimdall in Thor) might be in talks to star as Django after Will Smith possibly dropping out (he was never officially signed). Elba’s possible involvement is even murkier than DiCaprio’s, as the idea just comes from Elba tweeting that he was “Having one of the biggest meetings of my professional life today… meeting a very controversial director for a very controversial part.” People took that to mean Quentin Tarantino and Django Unchained, but really, he could have been talking about any controversial director. Uwe Boll’s pretty controversial, for example.
#2 ELIZABETH TAYLOR AND RICHARD BURTON’S FURIOUS LOVE RAGES ON
Biopic movie projects have a funny way of popping up not too long after their subject’s demise. Such was the case this week with Elizabeth Taylor, just over two months after her departing on March 23, 2011. The subject at hand is the book Furious Love by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger about the tumultuous romance between 1950s-1960s movie stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, which resulted in Burton being two of Taylor’s eight marriages (#5 and #6). After long negotiations with many other parties, Paramount Pictures has finalized a deal for Furious Love that sets the romantic real life epic up as a directorial project for Martin Scorsese. Screenwriter David Seidler (The King’s Speech) and actress Natalie Portman were among those who had also been trying to secure the rights, which gives us an idea of at least one actress who wants to play Elizabeth Taylor. To be clear, the use of the word “biopic” is slightly off, as Furious Love would not be a full biopic, but would focus on the years of the Taylor/Burton on-and-off-and-on-again romance, starting with the filming of Cleopatra in 1963 until their second divorce in 1976. As for Martin Scorsese directing Furious Love, the movie is likely going to have to wait a few years, as Scorsese has a full plate which includes the upcoming Hugo Cabret, his Five Obstructions project with Lars von Trier (which may be an artsy remake of Taxi Driver), the missionary priest epic Silence, and his plans for another biopic about the life of crooner Frank Sinatra. Furious Love will need that extra time anyway, as the next step for Paramount is to find a screenwriter for the project.
#3 HERE’S AN UNEXPECTED REMAKE: THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY
Legendary Pictures is the high profile Warner Bros-based production company most associated with big budget special effects movies like 300, Watchmen, Inception, Clash of the Titans and Christopher Nolan’s three Batman movies. Legendary also produced the two Hangover movies, and a few other less expensive movies like The Town and Observe and Report, and this news item is another project more in that budget range. Legendary Pictures has made a deal with the estate of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, who broke the league’s “color line” as a second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Jackie Robinson himself starred in the 1950 movie The Jackie Robinson Story. There have been other efforts in recent years to get another Jackie Robinson movie made, including one by Spike Lee (which would have starred Denzel Washington), and a project which would star Robert Redford as Branch Rickey, the Dodgers executive who signed Robinson. With the deal with Robinson’s estate, however, Legendary Pictures has the best chance of actually getting their project produced. Legendary has already hired Brian Helgeland to both write and direct the Jackie Robinson biopic. Helgeland’s resume as director includes Payback and A Knight’s Tale, and as screenwriter, Helgeland has also worked on Mystic River, Man on Fire and L.A. Confidential (cowritten with director Curtis Hanson).
#4 POP CULTURE SPOOFERS PENNY ARCADE GO TO THE MOVIES WITH THE NEW KID
The webcomic Penny Arcade has been joking about video games and other pop culture subjects since 1998. Now, thanks to a one shot webcomic called The New Kid (that was a grand total of just 6 panels), the guys behind Penny Arcade are getting into the movie business. Paramount Pictures has acquired the rights to The New Kid to adapt it into an animated film about a kid who is the only human in an outer space school full of aliens. The New Kid is the first step in a new animation launch that follows Rango, the studio’s first recent non-DreamWorks Animation release (not counting the many previous Paramount animated movies like those with Nickelodeon, etc). Paramount Pictures this week also acquired the rights to the DC Comics title The Mighty, which is particularly interesting because DC Comics movie adaptations are usually produced and distributed by Warner Bros. However, in the case of The Mighty, the comic’s creators Peter Tomasi and Keith Champagne controlled the rights, allowing them to go to another studio. The Mighty tells the story of a cop who has long worked with Alpha One, the world’s most powerful superhero, until he discovers that this “hero” actually has evil plans, forcing the cop to attempt to stop him.
#5 ELMORE LEONARD’S FREAKY DEAKY FINALLY CASTS UP
Crime novelist Elmore Leonard’s books have been adapted as several movies, including 3:10 to Yuma (based on a short story), Get Shorty (and its sequel Be Cool), Jackie Brown, and Out of Sight. Leonard’s novel Freaky Deaky has been in various stages of development pretty much since its 1988 publication, including a time when Quentin Tarantino was considering adapting it. This week, the cast of Freaky Deaky expanded considerably as filming is scheduled to start later this month in Michigan. The previously cast William H. Macy will be joined by Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser and Craig Robinson (The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine). Freaky Deaky tells the story of a Detroit cop (Matt Dillon) in the 1970s who is moved from the bomb squad to sex crimes, who then comes across a group of radicals connected to the bombing of a limousine. William H. Macy will play a Hollywood insider, Robinson will play his former Black Panther assistant, and Brendan Fraser will play a former activist who uses his knowledge of bombs for special effects sequences in Hollywood movies. Freaky Deaky was adapted and will be directed by Charles Matthau, who made his directorial debut in 1995 with The Glass Harp, starring his dad Walter Matthau.
#6 THIS WEEK IN BRADLEY COOPER NEWS
It is pretty much standard Hollywood playing rules that the week after a big box office opening, a director or actor will make the news a bit. Bradley Cooper (or more accurately, his agents and publicists) sort of overdid it after The Hangover Part II, maybe. Admittedly, two of these projects were already known, but here are Cooper’s three movies that made the news this week, in order of when they will be filming. First up is The Words, a dramatic thriller about a writer (Cooper) who discovers the price for stealing another writer’s work (which doesn’t sound a bit like Secret Window, of course). That movie will have a star-studded cast that will include Ben Barnes (AKA Prince Caspian), John Hannah (The Mummy), Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana (Avatar), J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man) and Olivia Wilde (TRON: Legacy). The Words will be the directorial debuts of TRON: Legacy screenwriters Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, and filming starts this month in Montreal. Next up, filming in July in Schenectady, New York, will be The Place Beyond the Pines. Bradley Cooper will play a cop on the hunt for a motorcycle enthusiast (Ryan Gosling) who starts robbing banks to support his newly born baby. The Place Beyond the Pines reunites Ryan Gosling with director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine), who also wrote both films. Finally, there was the revelation that Bradley Cooper has aspirations of being a screenwriter in addition to being one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood today. Talking to Charlie Rose, Cooper revealed that he has written an adaptation of the Dan Simmons sci-fi epic novel Hyperion, and hopes to possibly direct the movie as well. Hyperion is set during an intergalactic war in the 28th century, and for more information on that, you can try deciphering the lengthy and technobabble-filled premise here. These combined stories have “Fresh Development” status mostly on the strength of Blue Valentine, and the suggestion via Hyperion that Bradley Cooper is a super king-sized science fiction nerd behind the dimply good looks (in the best possible way, of course).
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 THIS WEEK IN YOUNG ADULT FRANCHISE MOVIES
Hollywood took the week off, post Memorial Day, from greenlighting movies based on fairy tales and focused instead on one of the community’s other recent obsessions: movies based on Young Adult novel franchises with female protagonists. The 14 year old fanbase isn’t going to make these movies themselves, after all. First off, there is Lionsgate’s adaptation of The Hunger Games, which saw its massive cast get even bigger with the addition of Donald Sutherland as President Snow, “the ruthless autocratic leader of Panem.” Lionsgate also made the news with the revelation that the studio is actually planning on making four movies out of the trilogy that continues with the novels Catching Fire and Mockingjay. How exactly three books will be split up into four movies isn’t yet known, but the popular notion appears to be that Mockingjay would become two movies, in much the same way that the final books in both the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises were done. Ah, but the Young Adult news doesn’t stop there. Universal Pictures has hired director Mary Harron (American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page) to take on their adaptation of Wicked Lovely, the first novel in a series of five books by Mellissa Marr. Wicked Lovely revolves around a 17-year-old girl named Aislinn who was born with the ability to see the faeries that are hiding in plain sight in our world, and now finds herself split between “a seductive Faery king” and her mortal boyfriend. Decisions, decisions, decisions! Wicked Lovely was adapted by frequent Tim Burton collaborator and screenwriter Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas). Finally, there is The Mortal Instruments, which is a soon-to-be-produced adaptation of City of Bones, the first novel in the four novel (so far) series by Cassandra Clare. Jaime Campbell Bower, who is best known for playing King Arthur in the Starz series Camelot, has been cast as Jace Wayland opposite Lily Collins, who will play Clary Fray. City of Bones tells the story of Clary Fray, a teenage girl who discovers that she is the descendant of a family of “Shadowhunters,” a secret group of warriors dedicated to driving demons out of the mortal world. The Mortal Instruments will be directed by Scott Stewart (Legion, Priest) from a script by newcomer Jessica Postigo. Surprisingly, there has not yet been any word of Paul Bettany costarring in The Mortal Instruments, which if true, will mark a career first for Scott Stewart. These three movies are collectively in the borderline Rotten Idea category, basically presented to you in order from the Freshest potential to the most Rotten Idea.
#2 TARZAN DIRECTOR SAYS IT’S HARD OUT HERE FOR A CHIMP
Warner Bros has for a while been trying to get a new live action movie based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan books, about an English lord raised in Africa by a family of gorillas. This week, Warner Bros signed a surprising choice to bring Tarzan back to the big screen: director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow), whose next movie will be the remake of Footloose (to be released 10/14/11). Craig Brewer reportedly won over Warner Bros with his idea for a story that will stretch out over three movies, forming a new Tarzan trilogy. The news of Brewer’s hiring comes while Warner Bros has also hired screenwriter Adam Cozad (who hasn’t yet had a movie produced, but he has worked on Paramount’s planned Jack Ryan reboot) to also adapt Tarzan into a new live action feature. It’s unknown whether Cozad’s work will be incorporated into Brewer’s trilogy idea, or if a new screenwriter will now be hired. Although Tarzan‘s movie career has slowed down considerably in recent decades (Disney’s animated version being the relatively recent high point), in Hollywood’s golden age, Tarzan was the starring character of dozens of movies. Although the idea of Tarzan getting a 21st century big budget reboot has a lot of promise, this story is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas because Craig Brewer seems like such an unlikely and odd choice, associated as he is with mostly musical projects. Does Brewer plan on having Tarzan rap and perform dance routines in the jungle, possibly with a chorus of gorillas, chimps and leopards backing him up? Maybe not, but that this writer even thought of that possibility is why this is a Rotten Idea.
#1 HAWKMAN: CARTER HALL AND THE GLIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
DC Comics made big news (mostly negative) among fans this week with the revelation that in September, the publisher will be relaunching their entire slate with 52 #1 comics along with major changes and a new online publishing option. These changes include a de-aging of many characters, costume changes like Superman losing his red outside underwear, and matching collars being added to many costumes. One of the characters that is seeing the biggest change is Hawkman, who will star in The Savage Hawkman with a new costume complete with talon-like gloves and porcupine-like wings. Hawkman is one of DC’s oldest superheroes (introduced in 1940), and he has also been the subject of some of the most confusing changes and reboots, to the point that there is not one answer as to who exactly Hawkman even is. Coincidentally, this week, the news also broke about Warner Bros’ plans for a Hawkman movie. The answer can be found in this description sent out to various screenwriting forums, searching for someone to take on the project, “Part INDIANA JONES/DA VINCI CODE, part GHOST tentpole about the fictional superhero that appears in D.C. Comic books. He used archaic weaponry and large, artificial wings attached to a harness made of the Nth metal that allows flight. Most incarnations of Hawkman work closely with a partner/romantic interest named Hawkgirl or Hawkwoman in his fight against supervillains.” That’s right, Warner Bros is comparing Hawkman to Indiana Jones, The Da Vince Code and (of all things), Ghost. The connection here is that the original Hawkman was archaeologist Carter Hall, who discovered in Egyptian ruins a set of wings made of a mysterious “nth metal” that allowed him to fly. Then, in the 1950s, Hawkman was rebooted as a sort of space cop from the planet Thanagar. Hawkman has been a confusing character ever since. This news is the week’s most Rotten Idea because Warner Bros appears to be fitting a fairly simple superhero peg into an Indiana Jones-shaped hole. That is the same problem that DC Comics keeps having too, probably not coincidentally. The difficulty of how to make a Hawkman movie was also sent up quite well in a recent YouTube video sketch (“Hawkward!”).
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.