It may only be a few days since the last entry of the Weekly Ketchup covered San Diego Comic-Con, but Hollywood was quick to start releasing news stories about movies that don’t involve superheroes or comic books. The movies that made the news in the last five days include Dragonriders of Pern, The Jungle Book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, The Mummy, Pixels, and Skull Island.
This Week’s Top Story
JAMIE FOXX TO STAR IN MIKE TYSON BOXING BIOPIC
If any evidence is needed to show that Hollywood movie news takes a drastic turn immediately following San Diego Comic-Con, one could suggest it’s that this particular item was the biggest news of the last five days. Jamie Foxx is now attached to star as boxing champion Mike Tyson in an untitled biopic that is currently being written. Mike Tyson himself also talked this week about the project, saying that CGI motion capture will be used for sequences in which the currently 46-year-old Foxx plays the now-48-year-old Tyson when he was in his 20s, at the height of his career. Mike Tyson also said that he thought Martin Scorsese was involved with the project, but the director’s name is thus far not mentioned by other sources. That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t a Scorsese connection (or the possibility of his involvement), as the Mike Tyson biopic script is currently being written by Terence Winter, who wrote Scorsese’s latest film The Wolf of Wall Street, and wrote several episodes of Boardwalk Empire, which Scorsese executive produces, and Winter also showruns. This new Mike Tyson project fits in nicely with Jamie Foxx’s career, as he previously starred in the biopic Ray (about Ray Charles), costarred in the boxing biopic Ali (starring Will Smith), and also costarred in the football drama Any Given Sunday.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 WARNER BROS MOUNTS DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN FRANCHISE
This is a pretty good time for fans of dragonic fantasy, from Daenarys Targaryen in Game of Thrones to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, and there’s also Godzilla, who is basically a modern revamp of a classic firebreathing dragon (sans wings, of course). One of the longest-running franchises in modern literary history about dragons has been Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern, which currently includes at least 22 novels. Attempts at a Dragonriders of Pern have percolated on and off through development over the years, but to date, there’s never been a theatrically released movie. Enter Warner Bros, a studio that is very much on the hunt for new franchises following the departure of Legendary Pictures (the company behind such current franchises as Godzilla and Warcraft). Warner Bros has optioned all 22 books in the Dragonriders of Pern series for a movie that will, the studio hopes, launch a new fantasy franchise. So, what is Dragonriders of Pern about, exactly? Skirting between fantasy and science fiction (with ecological themes), the books are about a world called Pern that orbits a red star, where telepathic humans train giant firebreathing dragons in a never ending war against poisonous silver spores called “Thread,” which destroy any organic matter they touch. Dragonriders of Pern is one of the first new projects brought to Warner Bros by recent executive hire Drew Crevello, who previously worked at 20th Century Fox on the X-Men franchise.
#2 PAUL GREENGRASS’ LATEST NEWS-INSPIRED PROJECT: AGENT STORM: MY LIFE INSIDE AL QAEDA
Director Paul Greengrass is building quite a career on movie projects inspired by true stories from recent news-making events. These specific films have included United 93 (about 9/11), Green Zone (about the Iraq War), and Captain Philips (about Somali pirates). This week, Sony Pictures acquired the rights to the upcoming non-fiction book Agent Storm: My Life Inside Al Qaeda, by Morten Storm, who became a double agent inside the terrorist group, working for three different intelligence agencies (Denmark, the UK, and the USA). Meanwhile, Paul Greengrass is also still developing his own Martin Luther King, Jr. movie, Memphis, about the manhunt following King’s assassination.
#3 THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT SKULL ISLAND, THAT “DISAPPOINTING” SDCC REVELATION
If you only heard a few things about this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, it’s likely you heard people were disappointed when what they thought were going to be the first images from Jurassic World turned out to be the first look at a King Kong origin story called Skull Island. The mistake that Legendary Pictures may have made was in not giving the teaser any sort of immediate “rah rah” moment, such as, who will be directing Skull Island. The reason for this, of course, might be that Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures didn’t actually know yet who would be directing the film (maybe the expectation was that they would have a deal lined up to announce, but didn’t). Already this week, the news is breaking that the Skull Island directing job has been offered to Joe Cornish, who made his directorial debut with 2011’s Attack the Block. We also now know that Skull Island was written by screenwriter Max Borenstein, who wrote this year’s reboot of Godzilla. That detail lead to speculation by some that since both Godzilla and Skull Island are Legendary projects from the same screenwriter, that maybe they will be tied together someday. The two monsters first battled in 1962’s King Kong vs Godzilla, and the Toho monster’s name was also a portmanteau of the Japanese words for “gorilla” and “whale.”
#4 EVA GREEN JOINS TIM BURTON’S MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN
Eva Green, who costarred in Tim Burton’s movie version of Dark Shadows, is now in talks with 20th Century Fox to reunite with the director for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, playing the title character. The movie will be an adaptation of the children’s novel by Ransom Riggs about “a teenager who finds himself transported to an island where he must help protect a group of orphans with special powers from creatures out to destroy them.” Tim Burton is preparing to start filming Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children after the release of the Margaret Keane biopic Big Eyes on Christmas Day, 2014.
#5 CHRISTOPHER WALKEN AND GIANCARLO ESPOSITO TO PLAY ANIMAL LEADERS IN THE JUNGLE BOOK
This week, two different groups of animals in Walt Disney Pictures’ live action remake of The Jungle Book gained their leaders (or, at least, their leaders’ voices). Christopher Walken will provide the voice of King Louie, the leader of the various monkeys and apes. Giancarlo Esposito, who is probably best known for playing fried chicken enthusiast Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, will provide the voice of Akela, the leader of the wolf pack. Jon Favreau is directing The Jungle Book, which is scheduled for release on October 9, 2015.
#6 THE CLASSIC VIDEO GAMES OF PIXELS WERE REVEALED AT SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON
Earlier this week, the Ketchup tried with some conviction to cover most of what went down at San Diego Comic-Con (which was technically mostly in the last 7 days), but it was inevitable that not every story was going to squeeze in. With a few days of retrospection, we probably should have mentioned that Sony Pictures revealed the many, many classic arcade games that are going to be featured in next year’s Pixels. First off, let’s acknowledge that this is “an Adam Sandler movie,” and yes, we’re calling this a Fresh Development. The reason for this is… the list of games is quite impressive, and we’re writing this in the afterglow of both Wreck-It Ralph and The LEGO Movie. So, that list of games, in this movie about an alien race that uses them as inspiration for an invasion force, includes: Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, Defender, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong (including Mario), Frogger, Galaga, Joust, Missile Command, Pac-Man, Q-Bert, Robotron, Wizard of Wor, and of course, Space Invaders. That last title also made the news earlier this month because Akiva Goldsman (Lost in Space, I Am Legend) is now producing the Space Invaders movie for Warner Bros.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 ZAC EFRON AND ONE OF BLURRED LINES GIRLS STAR IN WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS
Sometimes, there’s movies that are really only “Rotten Ideas” because there’s nothing about them that we can really honestly say feel like “Fresh Developments” either. We’re going to be wrong sometimes, but hey, we have to draw lines somewhere. Anyway, this week, Zac Efron and model-turned-actress Emily Ratajkowski, who appeared in Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines music video, signed on to star in an indie drama called We Are Your Friends. The film will be the directorial debut of Max Joseph, costar of MTV’s Catfish. This “coming-of age-drama about finding your voice” will be set “in the worlds of electronic music and the Hollywood nightlife, where an aspiring 23-year-old DJ named Cole spends his days scheming with his childhood friends and his nights working on the one track that will set the world on fire” (you can follow this link to read the rest of the premise, which seems to give away most of the movie).
#2 THIS WEEK IN YA ADAPTATIONS: ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES AND DOWN A DARK HALL
There are obviously going to be exceptions to the rule, but it continues to feel like the “young adult adaptation” marketplace, especially in terms of what films are in development, is over saturated, with more movies than Hollywood will ever be able to get made. This trend is especially questionable, the argument could be made, when the books being optioned haven’t even been published yet. That’s true of our first story here. Elle Fanning is attached to star in an adaptation of the upcoming 2015 YA book All the Bright Places, by debut author Jennifer Niven; Fanning will play a girl who falls in love with a suicidal teenage boy. Another new YA adaptation this week was Down a Dark Hall, based on a book by Lois Duncan, which will be produced by Lionsgate and directed by Rodrigo Cortes (Buried). The YA suspense thriller is set at a boarding school for girls where a student discovers that something “strange is happening behind its walls as she confronts the darkly seductive powers of Blackwood’s headmistress and comes face to face with the supernatural powers that could make her great or destroy her.”
#1 DETAILS ARE UNWOUND ABOUT THE (LATEST) REBOOT OF THE MUMMY
We heard recently that producer/writer Alex Kurtzman, following his separation from longtime creative partner Roberto Orci, was partnering with Chris Morgan (of the Fast and Furious franchise) for Universal’s rebooting of various classic monsters. This latest wave of reboots appears to be starting with this Fall’s Dracula Untold (but that film is usually not included in these stories, so maybe not). This week, we learned that Alex Kurtzman will also be directing the latest version of The Mummy, which leads directly to “Rotten” territory, because Kurtzman’s first film was the 2012 drama People Like Us (which is Rotten with 55 percent on the Tomatometer). It was also clarified this week that this version of The Mummy will be an action adventure with horror elements set in the present day, with entirely new characters. Universal Pictures also this week announced a release date for The Mummy of June 24, 2016, following the sequel The Huntsman on April 22, 2016. The rest of Universal’s 2016 slate also includes Ride Along 2 (1/15/16), Warcraft (3/11/16), The Best Man Wedding (4/15/16), the fifth Bourne movie (7/15/16), Monster High (10/7/16), and the aforementioned Skull Island (11/4/16).
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.