This week’s big ten includes the expected mix of remakes (The Karate Kid, Pinocchio), comic book adaptations and… Ridley Scott directing Monopoly?
#1 JADEN SMITH TO WAX ON AND OFF IN THE KARATE KID
Jaden Smith (son of Will) has signed with Columbia Pictures to star in their remake of The Karate Kid, which will be filmed in Beijing next year (although a director hasn’t been announced yet). At 10, Jaden Smith is considerably younger than the teenage Ralph Macchio in the original movie, plus that movie was set in America, so there are obviously going to be some changes, with Columbia apparently aiming to emphasize the “Kid” in the title.
#2 CAPTAIN AMERICA TO HAVE THE RETRO FEEL OF THE ROCKETEER?
Marvel Studios announced this week who will be directing The First Avenger: Captain America (yep, they’re sticking with that title), and it wasn’t someone that most fanboys ever would have put on their wish lists: Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Jurassic Park III), the director of this April’s The Wolfman. Set during World War II, the story of Captain America could indeed have some of the nostalgic gleam that Johnston brought to The Rocketeer 17 years ago, sort of paving the way stylistically for similar movies that have followed since.
#3 BRAAINNSS, JAMES BRAINNSS: QUANTUM OF SOLACE DIRECTOR DOING ZOMBIES
This week, as Quantum of Solace heads to theaters with no other major studio movies against it, director Marc Forster rode that wave by signing on with Paramount to direct World War Z, the big budget adaptation of the popular zombie-centric novel, which Brad Pitt has been producing and guiding through development for a while. World War Z (Max Brooks’ sequel to The Zombie Survival Guide) is a series of accounts from survivors of a world-wide zombie apocalypse, and has been described as reading like a political criticism of how governments handle emergencies.
#4 STEVE CARELL AND FRIENDS VOICING DESPICABLE ME
Universal Pictures is getting into the 3-D CGI animated business, with the first project being Dispicable Me, a villain-centric comedy that seems to be trying to compete with DreamWorks’ Master Mind, which is also aiming for a 2010 release. While Master Mind‘s villain will be voiced by Robert Downey, Jr, Dispicable Me will be headlined by Steve Carell. Other Dispicable Me cast members include Julie Andrews, Jack McBrayer, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Danny McBride and Jason Segel. Carell will play a man named Groo who attempts to steal the Moon, egged on my his mother (Julie Andrews). It’s curious that they chose the name Groo, because this movie apparently has nothing to do with Groo the Wanderer, which could actually make a hilarious movie in its own right.
#5 TWILIGHT SEQUELS UNDERWAY, BUT THE NEXT ONE ISN’T CALLED NIGHT
The first movie doesn’t come out until next Friday, but Summit Entertainment is already betting on the success of Twilight by acquiring the rights to the next three books in the Young Adults vampire series by author Stephenie Meyer. Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter of Twilight, is already working on New Moon and Eclipse, the second and third books.
#6 IF BEYONCE WANTS TO PLAY WONDER WOMAN, WILL WE JUST CALL THE MOVIE WONDER?
Pop singer Beyoncé (Knowles) told The L.A. Times this week that she wants to play a super heroine, and has set her sights on Wonder Woman, meeting with executives at both Warner Bros and D.C. Comics. This news, of course, sent the Internet into a tailspin. In the comics, Wonder Woman has maintained a surprisingly stable look facially, even if over the decades she’s tried a couple of looks briefly that weren’t the traditional star-spangled gold bikini thing. So, the question is, can someone who doesn’t look like Linda Carter star in a Wonder Woman movie? Is America ready for a black Wonder Woman?
#7 RIDLEY SCOTT TO BUY A HOTEL ON PARK PLACE
Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) has signed to direct Universal’s adaptation of the Monopoly board game, working from a script by Pamela Pettler (cowriter of Monster House, Corpse Bride). Monopoly is part of a deal with Hasbro that also includes development of movie versions of Ouija Board (as a horror movie) and Battleship (as a naval war movie). The Hollywood Reporter describes what Ridley Scott is bringing to Monopoly as a “futuristic sheen along the lines of his iconic ‘Blade Runner.'” In other words, might we actually see large green and red buildings on locations color coded around a day glo Atlantic City, circa 2030?
#8 GUILLERMO DEL TORO ADDS PINOCCHIO TO HIS BUSY SCHEDULE
In addition to the many projects he hopes to direct in the next ten years, Guillermo del Toro retains a large producer schedule as well, and revealed this week to Bloody Disgusting that he is working with the Jim Henson Company to make a stop-action puppet animation movie based upon Gris Grimly’s illustrated version of Pinocchio, which Del Toro describes as having a “perverse and spooky and semi-necrophilia vibe.” As Del Toro points out in that interview, this sort of project takes years to make, so we’re not going to see this anytime soon.
#9 KIDMAN AND THERON TO COUPLE UP IN THE DANISH GIRL
Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron have signed on to play a married couple in The Danish Girl, the true story of the first post-op male-to-female transsexual (Kidman), and his wife (Theron). Based on the true story of 1920s-1930s Danish artists Einar and Greta Wegener, The Danish Girl will be directed by Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie) from a script by Lucinda Coxon (2002’s The Heart of Me). Pre-production is already underway.
#10 MERYL STREEP PURRFECT FOR DEWEY
Meryl Streep has signed to star in Dewey, a movie based upon the true story of a cat that was found in the deposit box of a small town Iowa public library, and lived there for 17 years as their mascot, inspiring libraries around the country to also adopt felines. Besides being cute and befriending lonely middle-aged librarians, they’re also good for addressing the rodent problem that dusty books attract. Dewey is a project of the new, smaller version of New Line Cinema as a subsidiary of Warner Bros, from a script by Pamela Gray (A Walk on the Moon) who has written for Streep before (Music of the Heart), adapting the non-fiction book, Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. As someone who used to actually be a MLS professional librarian, I can attest to the popularity of Dewey (now deceased) in the library world, and can easily predict that this movie will get free promotion from the thousands of the country’s public libraries.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS through his MySpace page or via a RT forum messageand Greg also blogs about the TV show Lost, at TwoLosties.Blogspot.com.