This week’s Ketchup covers seven days in which there weren’t many (confirmed/non-rumor) “big stories,” and some of those that did break out were sort of “rotten” (like the new Jack Black, Adam Sandler and Vince Vaughn movies). On the “Fresh” side of movie development stories, we have new films for Bryan Cranston, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Michael Fassbender.
This Week’s Top Story
HORROR SPECIALISTS BLUMHOUSE GREENLIGHT INSIDIOUS 3 AND INCARNATE
This past weekend, the horror sequel Insidious: Chapter 2 opened to over $41 million in domestic box office, which broke two records. The opening Friday of Insidious 2 was the biggest horror debut of 2013 (thus far). More significantly, the opening weekend was the biggest live action September opening ever (though that may just say more about what a low attendance month September usually is). The horror-centric production company Blumhouse Productions (also home to Paranormal Activity and Sinister) specializes in these sorts of films which can be made on a smaller budget ($5 million in the case of Insidious: Chapter 2), and with audiences continuing to turn out for them, Blumhouse is not going to be stopping anytime soon. And so, Leigh Whannell, who wrote the first two Insidious movies, has signed on to write Insidious 3 as well. Director James Wan has moved on to the Fast & Furious franchise with next year’s seventh film (and has stated a desire in leaving horror for a while), so Blumhouse is most likely looking for a replacement for Wan for Insidious 3. It’s not yet known if previous actors like Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne will be returning for Insidious 3. The winning post-Paranormal Activity formula for Blumhouse films appears to be using marquee name stars that aren’t so expensive as to raise the budget too much (such as Ethan Hawke in Sinister and The Purge). The latest actor to apparently fall into that sweet spot between “affordable” and “box office draw” is Aaron Eckhart, who has signed with Blumhouse to star in the exorcism horror movie Incarnate. Director Brad Peyton will make Incarnate his third feature film after debuting with Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, and most recently directing Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Aaron Eckhart will star in Incarnate as an exorcist who excels in his profession due to his ability to “tap into the subconscious of the possessed,” but is challenged when his latest client is a 9-year-old boy who is possessed by a demon from the exorcist’s past.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 BRYAN CRANSTON FOLLOWS BREAKING BAD WITH THE BLACKLIST BIOPIC TRUMBO
We’ve been hearing a fair amount lately about Aaron Paul’s post-Breaking Bad plans (the Need for Speed videogame movie, Joshua in the Biblical epic Exodus, and the indie drama Hellion). Bryan Cranston himself, however, has been pretty much a non-presence in the news, excluding two movies that are already long wrapped (the indie crime thriller Cold Comes the Night and the Godzilla reboot). We learned this week what Cranston’s next film role after Walter White will be, and it’s got “awards season” written all over it. Cranston has signed to play blacklisted Hollywood Ten member screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in a biopic called Trumbo (not to be confused with the 2007 documentary of the same title). Trumbo will be directed by Jay Roach, who is most famous for directing the three Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, and Meet the Fockers, but of late who has transitioned to directing more political movies like Recount, The Campaign, and Game Change. Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, but continued to work in Hollywood under “fronts”, including two movies for which he won an Academy Award (The Brave One and Roman Holiday, awarded posthumously). Dalton Trumbo helped break the blacklist when he received credit for Exodus and Spartacus. Trumbo’s last film as screenwriter was the 1973 prison movie Papillon, starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. Filming of Trumbo is expected to start in early 2014.
#2 LEONARDO DICAPRIO TO PLAY PRESIDENT WOODROW WILSON
There are U.S. presidents who were always famous and popular, those who quickly descended into obscurity, and then other presidents whose public popularity has always vacillated. The 28th POTUS, Woodrow Wilson, is arguably in that latter group. President from 1913 to 1921, Woodrow Wilson was a leader of the Progressive movement, and an adamant anti-war advocate who eventually became convinced of the importance of the United States becoming involved in World War I. And yet, today, Wilson probably wouldn’t even make most people’s lists of the ten most important presidents (presuming they can even list ten United States Presidents, of course). Reviving the reputation of Woodrow Wilson might just be what Leonardo DiCaprio had on his mind this week when it was announced that his Appian Way production company is partnering with Warner Bros for an adaptation of the recently published biography Wilson by A. Scott Berg. In addition to producing, Leonardo DiCaprio will also star as the 28th President. It’s worth noting, however, that with neither a screenwriter nor a director announced, Wilson is probably at least a few years away from actually happening. Whichever year Warner Bros eventually picks in this decade for its release will coincide with the 100th anniversary of an important event in Wilson’s presidential career.
#3 MICHAEL FASSBENDER FINALLY GETS HIS GUN IN WESTERN SLOW WEST
Fans of Michael Fassbender may have been disappointed when the departure of director Lynne Ramsay from the western Jane Got Her Gun led to the actor also departing the project. This week, however, we learned that the movie he’s been quietly developing with short film director John Maclean will itself be a western called Slow West. There’s really no other details right now, except that Fassbender will be joined by Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, Killing Them Softly) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Let Me In). Funding comes from the U.K. and New Zealand, and filming is scheduled to film in the latter location later this year.
#4 LUCAS BLACK RETURNS TO CONNECT FAST & FURIOUS 7 (AND 8 & 9) WITH TOKYO DRIFT
The movie’s been out for seven years now, so this writer presumes its safe to talk about the ending of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, but if you’re still spoiler-conscious, stop reading now. Still there? So, yes, the ending of that third released movie created something of a confusing chronology for the three Fast & Furious movies that followed it, because they all took place before we see Vin Diesel’s cameo as Dominic Toretto in the final scene. So, for people who actually spend time thinking about the intra-film continuity of the Fast & Furious franchise, the question has lingered about when and how Tokyo Drift would be tied back in. Well, we now have an idea, because Lucas Black has signed to reprise his character of Sean Boswell for not just Fast & Furious 7, but also movies #8 and #9, as part of the cast of what will become the franchise’s third de facto trilogy. This move will mean that future audiences who want to watch the franchise in chronological order will have to watch them in this order: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 3, 7, 8, 9. Fast & Furious 7 will be released by Universal Pictures on July 11, 2014.
#5 VIDEOGAME ADAPTATION DANTE’S INFERNO POSSESSED BY EVIL DEAD DIRECTOR
In late 2009 to early 2010, if you were part of EA’s target demographic, you really couldn’t escape the publicity around their video game Dante’s Inferno. And then, the game came out, the reviews were negative/mixed, the sales were “so so,” and it’s three and a half years later, and there’s still no confirmation of a sequel game. Hollywood, however, doesn’t always adapt the movies that would seem the most obvious sources (or when they should be adapted), so, why shouldn’t it work in reverse? In other words, despite all of the aforementioned, Universal Pictures is still moving ahead with plans for a feature film based on the Dante’s Inferno video game (which itself was a graphically gory action game only very loosely based on anything Dante Alighieri actually wrote). The reason we know that Universal is moving ahead with the movie is that they have started talks with director Fede Alvarez, who did a better job with the reboot of Evil Dead earlier this year than many were expecting (ie, it wasn’t a catastrophe and/or abomination of horror filmmaking). The latest screenplay draft of the Dante’s Inferno adaptation was by Jay Basu (who wrote the upcoming DTV sequel Monsters: Dark Continent), working from a first draft by Bruce McKenna (who worked on episodes of HBO’s Band of Brothers and The Pacific).
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 ADAM SANDLER GOES INDIE AS THE COBBLER
One of the most distracting blips in the otherwise fairly straight line that is Adam Sandler’s film career is the 2002 movie Punch-Drunk Love that he starred in for director Paul Thomas Anderson (the movie he directed in between Magnolia and There Will Be Blood). Well, it’s been over ten years since then, and now, Adam Sandler is again in talks to work with an acclaimed director on his fourth movie. That director is Tom McCarthy, whose first three movies were The Station Agent, The Visitor, and Win Win, and the movie in question is called The Cobbler. If Sandler signs on, he will play a modern day cobbler who has the “ability to metaphysically step into the lives of the people whose shoes he repairs.” Coincidentally, that premise actually sounds like it could have been one of Cartman’s movie pitches in the South Park episode “AWESOM-O.” This will be, however, a Tom McCarthy indie film, so the eventual result will surely be much different than if it was yet another Happy Madison “comedy” production. Consider The Cobbler a “borderline” movie caught somewhere in the limbo between the track records of McCarthy and Sandler.
#3 UNNECESSARY ENGLISH LANGUAGE REMAKE OF TROLLHUNTER STILL HAPPENING
Part of the allure of the 2010 monster movie Trollhunter was precisely how Norwegian it was, all of which was completely appropriate because of how inherently Scandinavian/Norwegian the myths of trolls are. It’s exactly the sort of movie that would seem to lose its raison d’etre as an English language remake (including the fact that the movie also had a sense of humor about itself). Anyway, not long after the U.S. release of Trollhunter, Chris Columbus and his 1492 Productions started development of an English language remake anyway, and this week, we found out that it’s going to be happening this winter while there’s still snow on the ground. The Trollhunter remake will be directed by Neil Marshall, who has something of a mixed record as a director (Dog Soldiers and The Descent were “Fresh”; Doomsday and Centurion were “Rotten”). You can watch the original Trollhunter online via Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” section.
#2 VINCE VAUGHN REUNITES WITH COUPLES RETREAT DIRECTOR FOR TERM LIFE
It takes an extra something special to be the worst-reviewed movie on Vince Vaughn’s RT Tomatometer, but that’s the distinction obtained by the 2009 “comedy” Couples Retreat. This week, it was confirmed that Universal Pictures has greenlit a movie called Term Life that will reunite Vince Vaughn with that movie’s director Peter Billingsley. Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Ender’s Game) will also costar as the daughter of Vaughn’s character, who will be a criminal in trouble with the mob who takes out a life insurance policy that will only pay out if he can stay alive for 21 days. Term Life is an adaptation of an Image Comics title so treasured by the company that they allow the “official site” to be a broken mess as the big movie adaptation is announced.
#1 DOES THE IDEA OF JACK BLACK IN A “SCARY” KIDS MOVIE GIVE YOU GOOSEBUMPS?
Jack Black is now in negotiations with Sony Pictures to star in their long-planned feature film adaptation of the popular R.L. Stine “scary” children’s book series Goosebumps. As long as the existence of a Goosebumps movie project has been around, the obvious question has been how one movie would adapt a book franchise with dozens of standalone stories. We now know the answer is that Jack Black will play an R.L. Stine-esque author character “whose scary characters literally leap off the page, forcing him to hide from his own creepy creations.” So, it’s basically like a cross between A Night at the Museum and John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness. But probably with more talking ventriloquist’s dummies. Goosebumps will also mark the third time that Jack Black has worked with director Rob Letterman, who also directed Black in Gulliver’s Travels and the DreamWorks Animation movie Shark Tale. This announcement was rather uncoincidentally made on Friday the 13th (but late enough in the day to miss last week’s Ketchup cut).
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.