This week’s Ketchup covered a seven day period in which Hollywood recovered from weeks of almost zero activity with enough newsworthy movie development announcements for two of these columns. Indeed, this writer expects some omissions to be pointed out by commenters, but hey, there’s only ten slots available each week. The stories that did make the cut include high profile sequels (Jurassic Park IV, Pirates of the Caribbean 5), a much lower profile sequel (Hot Tub Time Machine 2), remakes (Ben-Hur and possibly Gremlins), and the inevitable Lance Armstrong biopic.
This Week’s Top Story
JURASSIC PARK IV FINALLY GETS A RELEASE DATE
There were arguably a handful of movies this week that could have received the distinction as the week’s “top story.” The idea of a fourth Jurassic Park however has been lingering around for so long (Jurassic Park III came out in 2001), that it won out, even though this is the third time in two years that Jurassic Park IV got the headline (previously, here and here). And now, to the actual news, which is admittedly pretty skimpy on details: Universal Pictures has scheduled Jurassic Park IV for June 13, 2014, and it will be released in 3D (like the original movie will be for its rerelease in April). Whether or not the title will use Roman numerals appears up for debate. This news comes not long after Steven Spielberg delayed filming of Robopocalypse, which begs the question of whether he will, in fact, be directing Jurassic Park IV, or merely producing it (as it currently, officially stands). This caps a week full of release dates (mostly because studios announce their yearly plans at the beginning of the year; see how that works?): The newly revived Picturehouse will release the drama/concert movie mashup Metallica Through the Never, starring Dane DeHaan, on August 9, 2013; Machete Kills, at one time thought to be going direct to video, will “hit” theaters on September 13, 2013; Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity comes out October 4, 2013; and MGM and Paramount will release Brett Ratner’s Hercules comic book adaptation, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, on August 8, 2014. See the Pirates of the Caribbean 5 news down below for more release dates (from Disney).
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 MUST BE SOME KIND OF HOT TUB TIME MACHINE… SEQUEL
High concept comedies sometimes succeed by a different barometer than most other genres. Movies like Zoolander and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery can open to “okay” box office domestically, but then do much, much better after their theatrical release. So much so that they eventually get sequels (it may not have happened yet, but Zoolander 2 is still in development). And that brings us to Hot Tub Time Machine, which only made $50 million domestically in 2010 on a production budget of $36 million. Thanks, however, to such vehicles as Comedy Central, Hot Tub Time Machine now has a growing audience that belies the realities of that original theatrical release. And so, MGM, that studio so known today for remaking its old hits, is in early negotiations to instead make a sequel to Hot Tub Time Machine. These preliminary discussions include director Steve Pink, and stars Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, and Craig Robinson. John Cusack is notably not in discussion for the sequel, and now, here’s some speculation as to why (besides possibly more obvious reasons, like he doesn’t want to do it). Just as Hot Tub Time Machine took the characters back to the 1980s, one would have to speculate that the logical target for the sequel would be the 1990s. If the sequel does target a different decade, it might make more sense for the “John Cusack slot” (whose casting was an homage to his 1980s movies) might go to an actor who is more associated with 1990s movies. Teen comedies sort of went out of vogue for most of the 1990s, but one film that did quite well was Clueless, and Paul Rudd seems like someone who might be sort of perfect… if this is the approach that Steve Pink and MGM plan on taking. Admittedly, there’s more than one “if” within all of that. Rob Corddry may team up with Steve Pink to work on the screenplay.
#2 WITH THAT NAME, IT WAS INEVITABLE: ANNE HATHAWAY TO DO SHAKESPEARE WITH THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
First off, for those wondering what that title implies, here’s a theatrical history lesson (weird, huh?). And now, the actual story, which is that Anne Hathaway is reportedly attached to star in a new adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew, about a woman with a fiery personality named Katherina who is courted contentiously by a rapscallion named Petruchio. The Taming of the Shrew has been adapted many times, including a 1967 dramatic version starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Cole Porter’s Broadway musical Kiss Me Kate, and even an episode of Moonlighting. This latest version will be set in Italy (the play was set in Padua) in the mid 20th Century. It’s not yet known if Hathaway will be playing an Italian herself. Screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady) will adapt the screenplay for a new British production company with a first look deal with Working Title Films, which likewise has a first look deal with Universal Pictures.
#3 THE LANCE ARMSTRONG BIOPIC IS CALLED CYCLE OF LIES… SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE?
This story, one has to imagine, probably got started quite a while ago, but was kept hush-hush until after a certain TV interview last night. J.J. Abrams, Bad Robot, Paramount Pictures, and producer Bryan Burk have started development on a Lance Armstrong biopic based upon the upcoming book by Juliet Macur called Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong. As the title pretty clearly intimates, the tone here will be negative/damning. Cycle of Lies is announced in pretty stark contrast to the Lance Armstrong movie that Jake Gyllenhaal was attached to star in years ago, which would have been more of a glowing ode to athletic accomplishment, probably even with a certain “USA! USA! USA!” vibe (or maybe even this more NSFW vibe). There’s no word yet about whether Sheryl Crow might contribute to the soundtrack. Lance Armstrong sort of overshadowed what should have been the big news for Bad Robot this week, which is that Ron Howard is now attached to direct a movie for Bad Robot called All I’ve Got. Based on a 2003 Israeli TV movie, All I’ve Got tells the story of a woman in the afterlife who is given the chance to go back and relive what her life would have been if her original lover hadn’t died in a horrific car accident.
#4 EMMA STONE TO ENTER THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S CRIMSON PEAK
Although much of the press about this week’s new horror release Mama would have you think it’s the new movie from director Guillermo del Toro, as any fan of giant robots knows by now, that distinction actually belongs to Pacific Rim. Though Pacific Rim is still a few months away, GDT is already casting up his next film as director, which will be called Crimson Peak. Specific details are being kept hush hush at the moment, but it’s variably described as being either a ghost story, or more precisely, a haunted house movie (which usually also includes ghosts). The first name to be mentioned this week was Emma Stone, followed by Charlie Hunnam, who is also costarring in Pacific Rim. Although this casting is being done now, filming isn’t expected to actually start until February, 2014, after Guillermo del Toro wraps filming of the pilot episode for the FX series The Strain, based upon a novel that GDT cowrote.
#5 BRADLEY COOPER TO STAR IN THE SPY MOVIE TO (PROBABLY NOT) END ALL SPY MOVIES: DARK INVASION
It’s been written about a lot over the years, but the fact still remains: World War II receives a lot more coverage from modern movies than World War I does. The reason for this is probably because WWII just has better villains. Hopefully, that’s not too blunt of a way of putting it, but Nazis are pretty evil as far as villains go; anyway, this story isn’t about Nazis. Warner Bros has acquired the film rights to an upcoming (September 11, 2013) non-fiction book by Harold Blum called Dark Invasion, with an eye towards it being a star vehicle for Bradley Cooper. Presuming the movie actually gets made someday, Cooper will be playing NYPD Captain Tom Tunney, who is tasked in 1915 with bringing down a ring of German spies intent on preventing the USA from entering the war against Germany. Harold Blum says in the book that the CIA considers Tunney to be the first head of homeland security, and though there’s nothing like that online anywhere that I could find, maybe that’s just the CIA doing their job.
#6 THE WEEK IN NON-STORIES THAT FEEL LIKE REALLY BIG STORIES: ZACK SNYDER’S STAR WARS SPINOFF, AND THE GREMLINS REBOOT
This first story received a lot of online attention this week for obvious reasons, but what wasn’t as well covered was the fact that it was quickly denied (not that such denunciations are always 100% truthful). Anyway, the story was that Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, and the upcoming Superman movie Man of Steel) would be developing a Star Wars spinoff movie that would exist outside the new trilogy, with a story that is like Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, except with Jedi Knights. The idea that there could be Star Wars spinoff movies mostly comes from the idea that Walt Disney Pictures might want to be able to put out more Star Wars movies than just those within the strict limitations of a trilogy (something hinted at by various statements in recent months). That story came from Vulture, as did this one, which involves another cherished 1980s franchise: Warner Bros is reportedly very interested in rebooting Gremlins. However, there is almost no “there” there, as any potential movie would require a deal with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, and for various reasons (namely cost and Spielberg’s demand that he be involved), that deal is unlikely to happen. Both Star Wars and Gremlins get news stories lots of page hits though.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 THE FIFTH PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN GETS A 2015 RELEASE DATE
Besides Jurassic Park IV (and for some people, possibly more so), the announcement this week of a July 10, 2015 release date for the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean was probably the biggest news. Walt Disney Pictures also announced the signing of screenwriter Jeff Nathanson to work on Pirates of the Caribbean 5. Nathanson is usually credited as being the screenwriter of Catch Me If You Can, but his other credits also include story work on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and sole screenwriting credits on the sequels Rush Hour 2 and Rush Hour 3. Along with the release date came reports that Johnny Depp is signed to once again play Captain Jack Sparrow, but the curious thing there is that one would think that would have been the lead story, as opposed to the release date or the screenwriter. There was news back in 2011 that Depp was in negotiations, so maybe those talks went so well that Disney never thought it necessary to re-publicize his involvement. That would make sense, of course, except for the fact that a studio keeping quiet about Johnny Depp starring in their hugely expensive tentpole release seems… sort of weird. Anyway, other Disney release dates announced this week included The Muppets 2 (3/21/14), Maleficent (7/2/14), and Brad Bird’s science fiction drama 1952 (12/19/14), starring George Clooney.
#2 NOW THAT SCHWARZENEGGER IS BACK, SO IS TERMINATOR 5, WITH NEW SCREENWRITERS
A little over a year ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career as a movie star was very much in question. The question was whether people would spark again to the former Governor of California, or if they would find his custodial transgressions too unlikable. Well, The Expendables 2 came out, and the movie did well, without much of a peep or complaint about the fact that Schwarzenegger was in it. Meanwhile, Arnold Schwarzenegger kept up with a fairly steady work load, including this week’s The Last Stand, The Tomb with Sylvester Stallone, and a commitment to reprise his Cimmerian role in The Legend of Conan. Of course, all of that being written, it’s worth noting that we don’t actually know to what extent Arnold Schwarzenegger might ever appear in another Terminator movie again. Regardless, it would also be sort of silly to pretend that the actor and the franchise aren’t pretty well linked. The slowing down in development of the fifth Terminator did, after all, seem to happen in roughly the same period as the temporary cooling off by Hollywood towards Arnold Schwarzenegger. Anyway, development is back on for the fifth movie, with screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis (Pathfinder, Shutter Island) and Patrick Lussier (cowriter of Drive Angry, Dracula III: Legacy) now hired to start work. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas based mostly on the declining RT scores for the Terminator franchise itself, but also a little bit because of (some of) the RT scores for the screenwriters.
#1 HOW DO YOU FIGHT THE IDEA OF REMAKING BEN-HUR?
Obviously, there are some movies that get remade or revisited fairly frequently (Dracula, A Star is Born, and Les Miserables come to mind). And adaptations of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ were happening way before that really famous one in 1959 starring Charlton Heston. Having said that, some movies become so successful or cemented within the popular consciousness, that once they happen, they pretty much kill the concept going forward. Titanic is arguably one such movie. Regardless, MGM, that studio so inseparably in love with remakes, made a lot of money in 2012 (thanks, Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey!), and so they’re only more invested in remakes than ever. Which brings us to Ben-Hur, which they’re planning on remaking again, except this time, they want to spend more screen time on the Jesus Christ part of “A Tale of the Christ.” They probably won’t be calling Mel Gibson.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.