This week’s Ketchup doesn’t even really cover a full week, as it is being published on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Thursday, and so only half a week has transpired since the last Ketchup. And Hollywood has basically taken the whole week off for the holiday as well, so instead of the usual 10 stories, this Ketchup can only give you seven… because that is literally everything that happened this week in movie news. Included in the mix are two different adaptations of Scandinavian novels, new movies for director Martin Scorsese and Kenneth Branagh, and new roles for Dame Judi Dench, Chris Evans, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
This Week’s Top Story
MARTIN SCORSESE TO GO DARK AGAIN POST-HUGO WITH THE SNOWMAN
This week saw the release of director Martin Scorsese’s first ever “kids’ movie” Hugo. Possibly to address movie fans concerned that Hugo might be a sign that Scorsese has gone soft, it was announced this week that he was signed to direct an adaptation of the Norwegian serial killer novel The Snowman. This international bestseller was the seventh in the Harry Hole detective series by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø. The Snowman follows the investigation by Harry Hole, “an anti-authortarian, anti-sobriety cop,” of a series of killings targetting married women with children, and in each case, a snowman is found at the scene of the crime. Jo Nesbø had to agree to the production’s director selection, but also agreed to allow the English translation film not necessarily to be filmed in Oslo (where the novel is set). Screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom, Lions for Lambs), who also cowrote the upcoming zombie disaster movie World War Z, is now working on adapting the screenplay from the novel. Despite being the center of news this week, The Snowman is not likely, however, to be Martin Scorsese’s first post-Hugo movie. Other previously announced projects for Scorsese include the missionaries-in-Japan drama Silence, the mobster biopic The Irishman (starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro), a Frank Sinatra biopic, and a possible remake of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver done in the style of Lars von Trier’s The Five Obstructions.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 ANTHONY HOPKINS AND JUDI DENCH TO DON ITALIAN SHOES FOR KENNETH BRANAGH
Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Judi Dench are in negotations to star in the next film from director Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Hamlet, Henry V) (no “Sir” title for him… yet). Italian Shoes is an English language adaptation of a novel by Swedish author Henning Mankell. The story concerns an elderly man (Hopkins) who has spent years in isolation in the wilderness (where he lowers himself into the icy waters nearby each morning to remind himself that he’s still alive) whose life changes when an unexpected visitor (Dench) arrives. The Italian Shoes script was adapted by Richard Cottan, who also wrote several episodes of the Wallander TV series in which Kenneth Branagh also starred. Filming of Italian Shoes is expected to start in late 2012 or early 2013.
#2 THE LATEST HAROLD & KUMAR DIRECTOR SIGNS ON FOR SLASHER COMEDY FINAL GIRLS
Director Todd Strauss-Schulson recently made his studio debut with New Line Cinema’s A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas after a career previously best known for independent comedy shorts and videos. That movie ended up earning a Fresh RT score of 72% and $28 million at the box office thus far. Despite that low box office, but perhaps because of the good critical reception, New Line Cinema has signed Schauss-Schulson for another comedy project. In what is being called a cross between Back to the Future and Friday the 13th, Final Girls is a horror/comedy hybrid about a teenage girl who gets sucked with her friends into the 1980s slasher movie that her mother starred in. Final Girls was written by newcomers Mark Fortin and Josh Miller, who have worked on other projects, but have not yet had anything produced.
#3 DWAYNE “THE ROCK” JOHNSON, MONSTER HUNTER
A common point of complaint among action movie fans concerns the way that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has spent much of his post-WWE movie career starring in family-friendly fare like Tooth Fairy and Race to Witch Mountain. The argument is often made that Johnson is an obvious natural for more adult-friendly action movies (and as with all things, there’s a ticking clock about how much longer the 39-year-old will be able to stay in top shape). Recently, Dwayne Johnson has started to transition back into non-kids-movies with Fast Five, but his next two movies are Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which are both arguably hybrid movies in terms of this argument. This week, Dwayne Johnson signed on to star in an adaptation of the independent comic book miniseries Monster Hunter’s Survival Guide for Simon Kinberg, producer of X-Men: First Class and the upcoming Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Neil Blomkamp’s Elysium. As the title suggests, Monster Hunter’s Survival Guide is “a comprehensive guide to hunt monsters [sic], the undead and unnatural beasts, and survive the confrontations.” There is not a director or even a screenwriter announced for the adaptation yet, so Monster Hunter’s Survival Guide can most likely be seen as a possible project for farther along in The Rock’s career.
#4 THE HUMAN TORCH JOINS THE ICEMAN (BUT IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MARVEL COMICS)
The Iceman is the name of a long-in-development adaptation of the Phillip Carlo serial killer biography Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, about Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski. Kuklinski (who was 6′ 5″ and 300 pounds) claimed to be responsible for as many as 200 murders over the course of a 30 year career, and died in prison in 2006 at the age of 70. The independent production has had a rocky road through casting. Mickey Rourke was originally supposed to star as Kuklinski, but he has since been replaced by Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Boardwalk Empire). Benicio Del Toro had been signed to play Kuklinski’s mob boss Roy Demeo, but Del Toro has since been replaced by Ray Liotta. Finally, James Franco had been attached to play Kuklinski’s hitman mentor, but Franco recently bailed on the project. And that brief history of the project brings us up to this week’s news, which is that Chris Evans (AKA Captain America and Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four movies) has signed on to replace James Franco as Robert “Mr. Softee” Pronge. Independent director Ariel Vromen (2005’s RX, 2006’s Danika) is preparing to start filming The Iceman in December in Detroit, working from a script he cowrote with his RX screenwriter Morgan Land. Shannon, Liotta and Evans will be joined by a supporting cast which includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, Elias Koteas and David Schwimmer.
#5 WHAT SCARLETT JOHANSSON REALLY WANTS IS TO DIRECT… SUMMER CROSSING
Scarlett Johansson has announced plans to follow the career arc of so many other actors and actresses before her: she’s going to become a director. Johansson’s choice for her first movie as director will be an adaptation of Summer Crossing, Truman Capote’s first novella, which was long thought to be lost until eventually being published in 2005. Finally, it should be noted that this story actually broke late last week, but this is already a short Ketchup this week, so it’s being included here to help fill out the piece a bit. Actress-turned-screenwriter Tristine Skyler (1999’s Getting to Know You), who also has an adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar in development, adapted Capote’s novella. Set during the hot New York summer of 1945, Summer Crossing is the story of an 18-year-old debutante who decides not to join her parents on vacation in France, so that she can instead have a summer exploring her sexuality. There’s no word yet as to whether Johansson (currently 27) plans on also starring in Summer Crossing. Since there’s no way of really knowing whether or not Johansson has directing talent or not, this should be considered a borderline Fresh Development for now.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#1 CHOPPING MALL GETTING A REMAKE THAT LEAVES OUT THE WHOLE PREMISE OF THE MOVIE
First off, it should be noted that this pre-Thanksgiving shortened week was so light in news that not only was there only 7 stories (instead of 10, which are usually chosen from 15 to 40 total stories), but the Rotten Idea is for a movie that may not even be intended to get a theatrical release. However, there is something so inherently ridiculous about the premise of this remake that it has to be mentioned here. Kevin Bocarde, the producer of titles like Shark Swarm, Lightning Bug and The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb, is reuniting with FX-makeup-artist-turned-director Robert Hall, the director of Laid to Rest and Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 for a remake of the 1986 Roger Corman horror film Chopping Mall. Originally released as Killbots, Chopping Mall is about a group of teenagers who find themselves trapped in a shopping mall guarded by robotic security guards who start killing all of the teens. That premise is classic B movie cheese, but it’s not really what makes this a Rotten Idea (because really, who cares if Chopping Mall gets a remake?). No, the Rotten part is in how Robert Hall plans on remaking it. The new Chopping Mall will “downplay the science fiction elements and instead focus on a supernatural terror.” That’s right… a remake of a movie about killer robots is going to leave out the killer robots. Oy vey. Anyway… have a great Thanksgiving!
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.