This week saw a flurry of movie development news stories, and if the Weekly Ketchup was a column with 20 slots instead of 10, there still would have been interesting stories that would have been left out. The big stories that did make the cut this week include casting news for Superman: The Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises and the 23rd James Bond movie, as well as movies based upon Stephen King’s The Stand, Gregory McDonald’s Fletch novels, the trippy 1970s kids show Lidsville and… the Frisbee!?
This Week’s Top Story
THE BRITISH SUPERHERO INVASION CONTINUES WITH SUPERMAN
With the exception of the Marvel Studios movies, the emerging trend in big superhero movies appears to be the casting of British actors. First, there was Christian Bale as Batman, along with the supporting cast in those movies that is largely international (Sir Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Heath Ledger, Tom Hardy). Then, Sony cast American-British actor Andrew Garfield in the Spider-Man reboot. This trend was also reported on this week in this article. Now, the DC Comics superhero whose motto used to be “Truth, Justice and the American Way” has been cast. British actor Henry Cavill (The Tudors, The Count of Monte Cristo) will star in (the movie that might be called) Superman: The Man of Steel. The standing tradition with the casting of new Superman actors is to go with unknowns (Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh), and to some degree, Henry Cavill does fit that bill. Although he’s appeared in several movies, Cavill is still mostly an unknown face to most moviegoers. Cavill’s fame may shoot up a bit this fall, however, when he stars as Theseus in the Greek mythology epic Immortals. Superhero fans who have a long memory may also recall that Henry Cavill’s name was mentioned in years past during the casting of both Batman Begins and the movie that eventually became Superman Returns. Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch) will be directing the new Superman, which Warner Bros has scheduled for December, 2012. The casting news for the new Superman doesn’t end this week with just Henry Cavill, however. Warner Bros is also casting the leading lady (who isn’t Lois Lane, shockingly), and the three names on the top of the list are Alice Eve (She’s Out of My League), Diane Kruger (Troy) and Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day). Eve and Pike are English, Kruger is German, and all three are blondes. As for who that might give us a hint about who they are in the running to play, the only guess this writer can come up with is… an older Supergirl, maybe?
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 JAVIER BARDEM’S LATEST PLUM JOB OFFER: THE JAMES BOND 23 VILLAIN
Last week’s big news was that Javier Bardem had been offered the lead role of Roland Deschain in Ron Howard’s movie and TV super epic adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. There’s no word yet as to whether Bardem has accepted that offer, but this week, another was given to him. Javier Bardem has been offered the lead role as the villain in the upcoming 23rd James Bond movie. Daniel Craig will return for his third Bond movie, to be directed by Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition, American Beauty). Soon after, Bardem talked to The Los Angeles Times about the offer, which he called “very intriguing,” adding, “Evil can be very seductive.” Meanwhile, across the pond, the British tabloid Daily Mail is reporting that Ralph Fiennes is also in talks for a role in the next James Bond movie. It’s not known if that is the same role that Javier Bardem is being considered for, or for that matter, if the story is 100% reliable (British newspapers have sort of an iffy reputation when it comes to movie news). The 23rd James Bond movie is scheduled to be released on November 9, 2012.
#2 ANOTHER INCEPTION STAR JOINS THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
The first new actor to be announced for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises was Tom Hardy, who recently starred in the director’s Inception (and who we now know will be playing the villain Bane). The other recent addition to the cast was Anne Hathaway, who will be playing Selina Kyle, AKA Catwoman. Now, another Inception costar is in talks to join the cast, and it is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Levitt has come a long way from his start as being known as the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun, and has often been mentioned by fans as someone they’d like to see in a major superhero movie like The Dark Knight Rises. What we don’t know yet is who exactly Levitt will be playing. One strong possibility might be the Riddler (who Levitt sort of resembles), if the movie is going to have as many as three villains, or it could be someone else entirely.
#3 STEPHEN KING’S OTHER EPIC THE STAND JOINS THE DARK TOWER IN DEVELOPMENT
With Ron Howard preparing to adapt Stephen King’s massive epic The Dark Tower into both a movie trilogy and two related TV mini-series events, it was probably to be expected that Hollywood would renew its interest in other Stephen King properties. Before The Dark Tower, the Stephen King book that best matched the description of “epic” was The Stand, which started as an 823 page book before being expanded into a 1,141 page “Complete & Uncut Edition.” The Stand tells the story of the small group of survivors, some good and some evil, of a plague that kills almost everyone on the planet. The Stand has also been cited as an inspiration for many other stories, most notably the hit ABC series LOST. Now, Warner Bros and CBS Films are teaming up to adapt The Stand as a big screen movie, following years of development on a movie project in the 1980s, and the 1994 ABC six-hour mini-series starring Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe and Molly Ringwald. The next step is for Warner Bros and CBS Films to start meeting with directors and screenwriters, and to figure out if they want to adapt The Stand as a single movie or as a series of movies (probably the better bet, considering the scope of the story).
#4 FLETCH LIVES… AGAIN?
Although Kevin Smith has now announced that his hockey project Hit Somebody will be his last movie, there was a time when the director had lots of projects he was working on. One that Kevin Smith used to talk about a lot was a reboot of Fletch, based upon the comedic mystery novels by Gregory McDonald (specifically, Kevin Smith was going to adapt Fletch Won). Fletch is best known to moviegoers as the basis of two 1980s comedies starring Chevy Chase. With Smith’s plans abandoned, the rights were back up for grabs, and so Warner Bros has picked up the film rights to McDonald’s novels. There is no director or writer attached yet, and Warner Bros is aiming for more of a “reimagining” than a remake, hoping to make a “smart action comedy that plays out on a bigger canvas than the previous movies.” In McDonald’s novels, Fletch is a reporter who doubles as a detective and he also has to constantly deal with his two ex-wives and their demands for alimony (which is why Fletch is always so desperate to make money on big stories).
#5 BEN AFFLECK MAY LEAVE BOSTON FOR ARGO
After establishing his directorial career with Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Ben Affleck is in talks for a third movie which would take him out of the comfort zone of the neighborhoods of Boston. Affleck is in talks to direct Argo, an adaptation of an article in Wired called “How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran.” Conveniently, that title almost explains the entire premise of Argo. Set in 1979, Argo is the story of how the CIA and the Canadian government used a disguise expert and famed comic book artist Jack Kirby (the cocreator of Marvel characters like The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Fantastic Four and X-Men) to concoct a fake sci-fi movie called Argo. Using disguises and the Argo cover story, the CIA was able to rescue six U.S. diplomats from Iran. Argo was adapted by Chris Terrio (cowriter of Heights), and is described as having “elements of wry humor.” Ben Affleck has considered a few different projects in recent months, but has not committed to anything yet, but Argo is considered a strong possibility, partly because it is being produced by George Clooney.
#6 NICK FURY GETS A FEMALE SIDEKICK IN THE AVENGERS, BUT WHO IS SHE?
Last year, there were news stories that said that Samuel L. Jackson would not be appearing in Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury. This week, however, Samuel L. Jackson appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and said that he has indeed filmed scenes for both movies. Jackson didn’t stop there, however, with breaking news for us, saying that today he will be screen testing with five actresses for a character “who I guess is my sidekick and is with me all the time.” This story was quickly supplemented by a list of four actresses who are up for the unknown role. The list includes Morena Baccarin (V, Firefly), Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield), Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). The top rumor for the role is that it could be Janet Van Dyne, AKA The Wasp, but Marvel Studios declined to comment on the rumor. The idea that Fury’s “sidekick” could be Janet Van Dyne is supported by the resemblance that some of these actresses bear to the way that the Wasp has been portrayed in the comics, particularly in the last 10 years or so. The Wasp was also a founding member of The Avengers, so her inclusion in the movie, even if not as an active member, would make a lot of sense.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 DREAMWORKS DIGGING DEEP INTO THE ARCHIVES TO FIND LIDSVILLE
A very common recurring theme in kids movies is the idea of adults adapting favorites from their childhoods for the kids of today to (possibly) enjoy. Yogi Bear and Alvin and the Chipmunks are recent examples of this, but this has really been going on for decades now. This trend looks to continue with movies like DreamWorks Animation’s adaptation of Peabody and Sherman recently announced, but the studio isn’t stopping there. DreamWorks Animation is also adapting the 1970s Sid & Marty Krofft TV series Lidsville into a 3D CGI animated movie. Airing on Saturday mornings from 1971 to 1973, Lidsville was a bizarre live-action fantasy series populated by actors in colorful Krofft-style costumes. The show was about a teenager (former Eddie Munster, Butch Patrick) who finds himself in a magical land of talking hats and ruled by an evil magician played by Charles Nelson Reilly. If you were born after 1973, you really need to check out some YouTube videos of Lidsville to appreciate how bizarre the show was. Lidsville is a borderline Rotten Idea this week mainly because it is an attempt to re-popularize a TV show that wasn’t really that popular to begin with.
#2 MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL, WHAT’S THE WORST SNOW WHITE REMAKE IDEA OF THEM ALL?
In addition to inspiring a mad rush to get lots of Oz-related movies going, the success of Alice in Wonderland has also led to a three-way race of competing Snow White projects. The one that has gotten the most press recently is Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman, which is likely to star Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron. Disney also has their hat in the game with Snow and the Seven, which is set in 19th century China, and follows a young Englishwoman as she flees her evil stepmother and is aided by “seven international warriors.” Michael Arndt, who won an Academy Award for his Little Miss Sunshine script, and who was also nominated for his second movie Toy Story 3, has been hired by Disney to work on the script. By itself, that story may have landed in the Fresh Development list (based on Arndt’s writing accolades, not so much the concept itself). However, there are also two other Snow White projects, and the three of them together are what is Rotten. After long being mentioned by director Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall) as his top choice, Julia Roberts is now in talks to play the Evil Queen in The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, Singh’s planned 3D adaptation of the fairy tale. It is not so much that Julia Roberts is an awful choice for the Evil Queen (well, she is, sort of), but that there are so many movies in development based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This writer recently rewatched the Disney classic, and the movie still holds up. Why do we need three live-action remakes?
#1 WHAM-O GOES HOLLYWOOD
The 1994 Coen Bros comedy The Hudsucker Proxy was entirely fictional, but central to the story was a young toy inventor (Tim Robbins) whose two great ideas were basically the toys that made Wham-O a success in the 1950s: the hula hoop and the frisbee. In the movie, the joke in both cases was that all that Robbins’ character did was draw a circle on a piece of paper, and then exclaim, “you know, for kids!,” expecting people to understand what he was showing them. The first time, the circle was meant to convey a hula hoop, the second time, the circle was depicting a frisbee. Even with the Coen Bros’ reputation and Paul Newman in a supporting role, The Hudsucker Proxy was, unfortunately, generally considered a box office bomb. Now, Wham-O, the company behind those two popular toys (as well as the Slip N Slide, Hacky Sacks and Silly String) has signed with the ICM agency for representation in getting their toys turned into big Hollywood movies. ICM has recently had a string of movie development successes for their client Atari, getting movies based on Asteroids, Missile Command and Rollercoaster Tycoon started at three different studios. Wham-O going Hollywood is this week’s Rotten Idea because it is part of the ongoing trend of Hollywood developing movies based upon toys and games that don’t have any otherwise inherent narrative basis. Slip N Slide, for example, is a great way for kids to cool off on a hot summer day, but as the basis for a two hour movie… it’s all wet.
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.