This week’s Ketchup includes coverage of news stories for the sequels Finding Dory, The Expendables 3, Now You See Me 2, and Paranormal Activity 5 (which is actually Paranormal Activity 6… sort of). There’s also new movie projects for Leonardo DiCaprio, Harrison Ford, and Life of Pi director Ang Lee.
This Week’s Top Story
MARVEL STUDIOS ALREADY HAS THEIR MOVIES PLANNED ALL THE WAY TO 2021?
At San Diego Comic-Con, the biggest news was from Warner Bros, who announced three DC Comics adaptations that stretch out until 2017. Those three films will be a Man of Steel sequel with Batman in 2015, The Flash in 2016, and Justice League in 2017. This week, Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios did one better by commenting that internally, they have their plans already thought out all the way to the year 2021. The exact quote was, “I could arguably say what we’re planning for the year 2021. Will that happen? I don’t know. But what we planned for 2015 in 2006 is happening.” With Phase 1 ending in 2012 with The Avengers, and Phase 2 ending in 2015 with The Avengers: Age of Ultron, we can speculate that the reason Feige picked 2021 is that Phase 4 will end in 2021, following the end of Phase 3 in 2018 (three years each phase). With Marvel releasing two movies a year, there’s room for 17 movies, and of those, we only know for sure of less than half (Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and Doctor Strange). Throw in two more Avengers movies, and trilogy-enders for Captain America and Thor, and there’s still room for seven mystery movies. Of course, some of those might also be sequels (for Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange), but even if we allow for that, there’s at least four mystery slots still remaining. The top contender is probably a fourth Hulk movie, and there’s always the chance of movies for Agent 13, Black Widow, Falcon, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Some of the possible previously mentioned Marvel heroes that could then fill those 3-to-7 slots include Black Panther, Heroes for Hire, Inhumans, Ms. Marvel, and Runaways. New entries for heroes formerly at other studios, like Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Howard the Duck, and The Punisher are also possible. Or maybe there will be movies for Marvel characters we’ve never heard about plans for, like say, Brother Voodoo, Man-Thing, Moon Knight, Night Nurse, Squirrel Girl, Tigra, or Wonder Man. What Marvel properties do the commenters down below think will fill up that massive slate?
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 LIFE OF PI DIRECTOR ANG LEE TO BRING CLASSIC BOXING MATCHES TO 3D
Something special might be in the municipal water supply for Universal City, because Universal Pictures has had a great couple of weeks of new movie deals (starting with the move of Legendary Pictures from Warner Bros). The latest such story involves Ang Lee, who is coming off an Academy Award win for Best Director with last year’s Life of Pi. As the saying goes, “Ang Lee directed the HELL out of that movie,” and a big part of the eye candy was the effectiveness of the 3D delivery. And so, it’s possibly not surprising that Lee’s next big project also involves 3D. Ang Lee has made a deal with Universal Pictures to direct a 3D movie that will deliver “an epic look at the boxing world of the 1960s and 1970s, as seen through the prism of its biggest rivalries and greatest fights.” One personality that would have to be central to any movie purporting to deliver that is undoubtedly Muhammed Ali (and the “Thrilla in Manilla” is specifically mentioned as one fight that will be in the movie). There will also be a central narrative that ties all the fights together. The script will be adapted by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon), who also has Rush coming out soon for Universal Pictures.
#2 LEONARDO DICAPRIO’S VIKING DREAM MAY BE REALIZED WITH KING HARALD
One of Leonardo DiCaprio’s dream roles has reportedly long been to play a Viking. The world first heard of this ambition several years ago, when DiCaprio was attached to star in a Vikings project that would have been directed by Mel Gibson. That, however, was before the various run-ins with the law (and his female companion) that caused Gibson’s clout in Hollywood to descend considerably. Leonardo DiCaprio, however, still wants to make that elusive Viking movie, so his production company Appian Way and Warner Bros are partnering on developing a spec script pitch called King Harald. The movie would be based on the true story of 11th Century Viking Harald Hardrada (AKA Harald Sigurdsson), who spent 15 years serving the Byzantine Empire before going on to be “the last great Viking king.” The pitch came from screenwriter Mark L. Smith, who has also worked with Appian Way before on Endurance, a possible movie about Antarctica explorer Ernest Shackleton.
#3 PIXAR ANNOUNCES VOICE CASTS FOR THE GOOD DINOSAUR, INSIDE OUT AND FINDING DORY
At the big Disney D23 convention today, Pixar made three big casting announcements for their 2014 and 2015 releases. First up, there’s The Good Dinosaur (May 30, 2014), which will feature the voices of Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, and Judy Greer as dinosaur siblings, and John Lithgow and Francis McDormand will play the parent dinosaurs. Lucas Neff of the TV series Raising Hope will play the title character dinosaur. For Inside Out (June 19, 2015), Pixar has cast Amy Poehler as the lead character, Bill Hader (again) as Fear, Lewis Black as Anger, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, and Phyllis Smith (of The Office) as Sadness. Finally, there is the Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory (November 25, 2015), which will feature, in addition to returning cast like Ellen Degeneres and Albert Brooks, the introduction of Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy as Dory’s parents, and Ty Burrell (TV’s Modern Family) as a young Beluga whale. There have also reportedly been some changes (to scenes set at a popular aquatic theme park) to the film following the revelations depicted in the recent documentary Blackfish.
#4 JOSH GAD OF THE BOOK OF MORMON TO HEADLINE THE SAM KINISON BIOPIC
Seemingly ever since his auto collision death in 1992 at the age of 38, there has been talk in Hollywood of a Sam Kinison biopic. This week, the final pieces seemed to come together for Kinison (formerly Brother Sam), with The Book of Mormon star Josh Gad now attached to play the preacher-turned-comedian-turned-actor. Kinison will be directed by Larry Charles (Borat, The Dictator). The emphasis of the film will be on the early years when Kinison transitioned from a Pentecostal preacher in Houston to buying a ticket to the West Coast, and giving them a stand up routine in L.A.
#5 BRUCE WILLIS IS OUT, AND HARRISON FORD IS IN, FOR THE EXPENDABLES 3
As Sylvester Stallone has recruited aging action stars from the 1980s and 1990s for the various Expendables movies, there was always one “biggie” that might have seemed out of reach. We’re speaking of course of Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Jack Ryan: Harrison Ford, himself. Well, in a week that started with “tweets” from Sylvester Stallone about the departure of Bruce Willis from The Expendables 3, we were treated to the revelation that Harrison Ford will be joining the series as a new character. Future movies will have a hard time ever casting a bigger star than that, unless say, Tom Cruise wants to sign on for The Expendables 4 (never say never…). Mel Gibson was also confirmed this week as being cast as the movie’s villain. Antonio Banderas, who worked with Sylvester Stallone on Assassins, has also joined the franchise’s ever-growing ensemble cast. This column has been a bit harsh on The Expendables in the past, but this week, this writer is going to say that it is difficult to interpret the additions of Ford, Gibson, and Banderas as anything other than a trio of “Fresh Developments.”
#6 JOSH BROLIN TOPS CASTING RUMORS FOR BRUCE WAYNE ROLE IN SUPERMAN VS BATMAN
A few weeks after San Diego Comic-Con, the online movie news/rumor sites are still processing the revelation that a new Batman is going to be introduced in the sequel to Man of Steel. One rumor that emerged this week is the idea of Batman being an “older” veteran hero (ie, his mid-40s). As if to confirm this notion, a day later, a report emerged online that listed several possible actors, with the top frontrunner being 46-year-old Josh Brolin, who is currently a favorite in general at Warner Bros. In reverse order by age, some of the other contenders are reportedly Max Martini (43) (Pacific Rim), Richard Armitage (41) (Thorin of The Hobbit movies), Joe Manganiello (36) (True Blood), Matthew Goode (35) (Watchmen), and the baby of the group, Ryan Gosling (32). When Batman Begins came out, Christian Bale was 31. Mark Strong, who played Sinestro in the DC Comics movie Green Lantern, also hinted this week that he might be in the running to play Lex Luthor as well.
#7 THE YEAR 2014 TO HAVE A DOUBLE DOSE OF PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
After a four year stretch of new Paranormal Activity films, Paramount Pictures took this year off; instead, there will be two of those movies in 2014. First up, on January 3, 2014, there will be a movie that will make the franchise’s future numbering sort of confusing. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones will be the movie previously called by some writers the “Latino Paranormal Activity Spinoff.” And then, on October 24, 2014, Paramount will release Paranormal Activity 5, which some people consider the sixth movie, since the “spinoff” movie still has the words Paranormal Activity at the beginning of the title. What all of these movies continue to have in common is the pretense of “real” cameras in people’s homes, recording spooky ghostly activities, paranormally. Despite the really low RT Tomatometer score of 24% for Paranormal Activity 4, the first three movies were all “Fresh,” and so we’re going to tag this duo as “Borderline” Fresh… for now.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE MOVIEGOER’S SOUL
Few modern publishing franchises have been as successful or prolific as Chicken Soup for the Soul. Each book is an anthology of short stories around a common theme, and those themes can get quite specific, like Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul, Chicken Soup for the Scrapbooker’s Soul, and Chicken Soup for the Jaded Movie Columnist’s Soul (one of those might be fake). Anyway, Alcon Entertainment is the Warner Bros-based production company behind such movies as The Blind Side, Dolphin Tale (and its upcoming sequel), The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Joyful Noise. Thus, a Chicken Soup for the Soul movie is pretty much perfect for Alcon Entertainment, and so exactly one such movie is now in development. Screenwriter Brandon Camp (Dragonfly, Love Happens) is now adapting a script which will incorporate characters from various popular short stories in the series. Usually, the reason for calling adaptations of popular books in recent years a “Rotten Idea” has been because the source material was non-narrative (like What to Expect When You’re Expecting, also produced by Alcon Entertainment). These stories don’t have that problem, but a lot of them are still frequently guilty of such offenses as being treacly, maudlin, or just plain emotionally manipulative and/or loaded.
#1 NOW YOU SEE ME PULLS A SEQUEL OUT OF ITS FIGURATIVE MAGICIAN’S HAT
This writer doesn’t know if this year’s second “magician/illusionist” movie (after The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) ever really captured the public attention enough for anyone to remember it as a “hit.” However, Now You See Me did in fact earn $115 million domestically on a budget of $75 million, and in a summer with movies like The Lone Ranger and R.I.P.D., that’s enough for a sequel, apparently. And so, yeah, Lionsgate is planning on doing exactly that. There are no details on a premise, returning cast, a screenwriter, a director, or a title, but one has to imagine that Now You Don’t has got to be a strong contender. The Now You See Me sequel is this week’s Rotten Idea at least partly because the first movie was “Rotten” with a RT Tomatometer score of 48%. For the rest of the reason this sequel is a Rotten Idea, I now present for your attention, ladies and gentlemen, this answ *poof*
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.