This week’s Ketchup includes news about the latest entries in the Alien, The Crow and Total Recall franchises, more news about what people associated with Lost and Star Trek have in the works, and new roles for Russell Brand, Tina Fey, Meryl Streep, Justin Timberlake, Denzel Washington and Sam Worthington.
Since Guillermo del Toro left the Hobbit prequels, it seems that nearly every week has had news about the director’s future. Last week, the big news was that he was writing and producing a new Haunted Mansion movie for Disney. That, however, is not del Toro’s next film as director, which is probably what fans are most excited to discover. This week, James Cameron came aboard to produce (for Universal Pictures) one of del Toro’s long-planned dream projects: H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. The 1931 novella is widely considered to be the core story of Lovecraft’s “Cthulhu Mythos,” as it depicts an expedition to Antarctica that discovers a bizarre, ancient city created by an ancient race of creatures that worshipped terrifying gods, the mere knowledge of which can turn a human being insane. Lovecraft’s stories have had a huge influence on pop culture (especially in recent years), but there has never been a major, big-budget studio movie based directly upon one of his Cthulhu stories. Guillermo del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness will be a 3D production, and Guillermo del Toro will start pre-production soon, and plans to start filming in the summer of 2011. At the Mountains of Madness has long been one of several projects vying to be GDT’s next after The Hobbit. One of the other projects is a Frankenstein film for which makeup tests are already being prepared (even though it won’t be his next film). Del Toro has also revealed that the recent talks about him possibly working on a new Van Helsing movie never went anywhere, and that project won’t be happening.
Producer/writer Damon Lindelof has taken his first new job since wrapping up the six seasons of Lost, and it’s another high-profile project that joins two others already in the works (he’s cowriting Cowboys & Aliens and Star Trek 2. Lindelof signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to do rewrite work on the Alien prequel that Fox hopes will be Ridley Scott’s next project as director. The meeting in which Lindelof discussed his Alien ideas also produced a concept that could end up being a “free-standing science fiction film” (ie, a movie that’s not a sequel/remake/adaptation, gasp!). Many fans credit Lindelof as being the real brainchild behind what made Lost work, and those fans are most likely very excited to see whatever Lindelof will deliver on the big screen next. Michael Bay also made alien-related news this week, picking up a spec script pitch that is being referred to as the Confidential Alien Project. Bay’s Platinum Dunes will produce the project, the premise of which is being kept secret. Confidential Alien Project was sold on the strength of a treatment and a two-minute teaser trailer by screenwriting newcomer Bobby Glickert.
Nick Cave is primarily known as a singer/songwriter with a penchant for dark and sometimes depressing lyrics about themes like murder, violence, death and religion. However, Cave is also getting more and more involved with film, having written The Proposition, cowritten Ghosts… of the Civil Dead and writing the scores for movies like The Road and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Nick Cave’s latest screenwriting project will be the rewriting of the planned reboot of The Crow, based upon the comic book by James O’Barr, and which has also inspired four previous movies. Nick Cave will be rewriting the existing script by director Stephen Norrington (Blade, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). The reboot of The Crow is currently an independent project being produced by Ed Pressman (American Psycho, Thank You for Smoking, Wall Street), who also produced the previous four movies.
J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot (Lost, Star Trek) have picked up the rights (with Paramount Pictures) to the recent picture book Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett. Boilerplate tells the story of the world’s first robot who, in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, went on a series of adventures and military missions. During those travels, Boilerplate met and fought alongside figures like Teddy Roosevelt, Pancho Villa and Lawrence of Arabia. Except, of course, that Boilerplate is completely fictional, so this is very much a work of alternative history. There is already a trailer for the book, which does a great job of giving you an idea of what the adventures in the movie will most likely involve.
Director Lee Daniels (Precious) has spent much of 2010 preparing the civil rights drama Selma, but problems finding financing appear to be leading Daniels to finding another similarly-themed project. Daniels has signed a deal with Sony Pictures to rewrite and direct the true story drama The Butler. Denzel Washington has also been approached about starring. The Butler is based upon the true story of Eugene Allen, a White House servant who served under eight different presidents (Truman to Reagan) during his 34-year career. Allen died earlier this year at the age of 90, but not before living to be invited to Barack Obama’s swearing in, which was symbollic of the civil rights changes that have happened since Allen first started working at the White House under segregation. The first draft of The Butler was written by Danny Strong (HBO’s Recount).
Sony Pictures has picked up the rights to Mommy & Me, a comedy starring Meryl Streep and Tina Fey as a mother-daughter pair in an unrevealed premise. Actor Stanley Tucci will be directing Mommy & Me, which will be his fourth film as director after Big Night, The Impostors and Blind Date. The Mommy & Me treatment was written by Joby Harold (2007’s Awake). Stanley Tucci has previously costarred with Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada and Julie & Julia, but there’s no word yet as to whether Tucci will also be appearing in Mommy & Me, or if he will just be directing. Both Tina Fey and Meryl Streep have had a string of comedy hits in recent years, and so the pairing of the two actresses in the same movie has a great deal of potential.
Justin Timberlake’s acting career is continuing along nicely, with four upcoming movies (The Social Network, Yogi Bear, Bad Teacher, Friends with Benefits) now joined by a fifth, and a starring role at that. Timberlake has been offered the lead role in the science fiction action film I’m.mortal by 20th Century Fox. I’m.mortal is set in a future where people can live forever as long as they can afford it. Timberlake would play a man who is on the run, trying to avoid his death, and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!) is already attached to play a woman that he kidnaps along the way. I’m.mortal was written by and will be directed by Andrew Niccol, who directed Gattaca, S1m0ne and Lord of War, and also wrote The Truman Show. Gattaca and The Truman Show in particular seem to suggest the type of “thinking man’s genre movie” that I’m.mortal might be.
Sam Worthington is steadily accruing new roles, including Dracula Year Zero, Quatermain and Dan Dare, in addition to Avatar 2 and Clash of the Titans 2. The latest job for Worthington is the starring role in Man on a Ledge, a police thriller about a former NYPD officer who threatens to jump to his death, and the female psychologist who tries to talk him out of it. The premise suggests a movie like Phone Booth that is set primarily in one place, but perhaps much of the movie will be told in flashbacks (or something similar). Man on a Ledge was written Pablo Fenjves, whose filmography to date consists of several TV movies like Trophy Wife and The Devil’s Child. The Summit Entertainment release will be directed by Asger Leth, codirector of the 2006 documentary Ghosts of Cite Soleil.
After playing the same character twice in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek, Russell Brand recently began filming the remake of Arthur, no doubt reinventing the classic Dudley Moore character with his own style. Now, it appears that Russell Brand wants to do the same with the type of old-school swashbuckling swordsman characters once popularized by actors like Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks and more recently, Johnny Depp. Russell Brand is in talks to star with 20th Century Fox in Hawkwood, an action comedy about 14th century mercenary John Hawkwood. Hawkwood and his White Company achieved fame and notoriety primarily in Italy by fighting for various factions, repeatedly switching sides to whomever paid the highest price. It was Russell Brand who first heard about John Hawkwood, and it was his suggestion that got the project started. The Hawkwood script is being written by Jared Stern, who contributed story material to Disney’s Bolt and The Princess and the Frog.
Hollywood’s recent remake frenzy includes several arguably unnecessary projects, and one of them is Total Recall, since Paul Verhoeven’s original 1990 film still holds up and is considered by many to be one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best films. Len Wiseman (Underworld, Live Free or Die Hard) is in advanced talks with Columbia Pictures to direct the Total Recall remake. Total Recall was based upon the Philip K. Dick novella We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, and involves a man whose attempt to have memories of a visit to Mars implanted reveals that he is actually an undercover government assassin. The Verhoeven movie differed from the novella by having the character actually travel to Mars. The remake is being written by Kurt Wimmer (Salt, Equilibrium, Ultraviolet), and is being described as a “contemporized” adaptation of Total Recall. Since neither memory implants nor the colonization of Mars are particularly “contemporary” (yet!), this is most likely intended to mean that the movie will feel like one made in the 2010s rather than in 1990. This is this week’s most Rotten Idea because Total Recall simply does not need to be remade. The success of Inception might have some influence in Columbia Pictures’ decision to proceed with this remake, but there are still plenty of other Philip K. Dick stories (and those of other, similar authors) that could be adapted, rather than just remake a movie that still works.