This week’s Ketchup covers over ten movie development news stories, including comic book adaptations (Deadpool and Suicide Squad), monster movies (Skull Island, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), and remakes (Ben-Hur, I Know What You Did Last Summer).
This Week’s Top Story
MATT DAMON TO BE BOURNE AGAIN IN 2016
This year, Jeremy Renner has been filming two big new sequels in the form of first Avengers: Age of Ultron, and then Mission: Impossible 5, along with Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames. One sequel, however, that Renner won’t be filming any time is the The Bourne Legacy 2, which had been scheduled for July 16, 2016. Oh, there’s still going to be a Bourne sequel scheduled for that date (just not that one). Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass are now in negotiations with Universal Pictures to return for a fourth movie about Jason Bourne, following their collaboration on the two sequels The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). The goal is indeed to get the film ready in time for that 7/16/16 release date. The Bourne Legacy sequel with Jeremy Renner (and director Justin Lin) remains in development… for some later date. In the meantime, Matt Damon is preparing to film the drama Manchester-by-the-Sea and the astronaut-stranded-on-Mars adventure drama The Martian for director Ridley Scott. This week, we learned that the female lead, which Jessica Chastain had previously been associated with, will instead be going to Kate Mara. Mara will be starring in next year’s The Fantastic Four (and this is actually the first of three stories this week with connections to that reboot).
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 DID THE INTERNET SAVE DEADPOOL?
Life on the ‘net moves pretty quickly nowadays, so it might seem difficult to imagine that just a few months ago, the idea of Ryan Reynolds starring in a Deadpool movie was not only a) unlikely, but b) probably not a great idea, anyway. After all, Reynolds did appear as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and well, it was sort of awful. And then, back in July, 100 glorious [NSFW] seconds of Deadpool test footage appeared online. Yesterday morning, quotes from Ryan Reynolds also appeared online, where he referred to the internet’s reaction as “awe-inspiring, actually,” making him think, “Oh, so we weren’t crazy for our reasons for loving this character, for loving this role.” Now, we have no way of knowing if these two things were planned, or just serendipity, but a few hours later came the following news: 20th Century Fox has officially scheduled Deadpool for February 12, 2016. Right around now would be a good place to explain that Deadpool is a Marvel Comics assassin character (AKA the “Merc with a Mouth”) created in 1991 who is known for his penchant for cracking wise, hanging out with obscure Marvel D-listers, and occasionally “breaking the fourth wall.” Deadpool has also been making a lot of video game appearances lately. Deadpool will mark the feature film directorial debut of Tim Miller, who will be working from a script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the team behind Zombieland and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. That release date also means Deadpool will be the next film in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise, coming before both X-Men: Apocalypse (5/27/16) and the third solo Wolverine movie (3/3/17). Meanwhile, in other Marvel release date news, the reboot of The Fantastic Four (mention #2, kids!) was bumped back two months from next June to August 7, 2015. The reboot is taking the slot previously being held for Michael Fassbender’s Assassin’s Creed adaptation, which is currently off the schedule. And finally, the Internet lit into one of those typical frenzies this week with the news that Marvel has “officially” scheduled Doctor Strange for July 8, 2016. The quotation marks are there, however, because the news didn’t actually come from Marvel (which is not to say that it’s necessarily “wrong” — just not confirmed).
#2 THIS WEEK IN TOM HIDDLESTON: SKULL ISLAND, AND ANOTHER HANK WILLIAMS MOVIE?
We don’t know when we’ll next see Tom Hiddleston as Loki in a Marvel Studios movie, but the actor is landing lots of other work. This week, we learned that the English actor has landed the lead role in Skull Island, which will delve deeper into the history of the land that will eventually give the world King Kong. Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures will release Skull Island on November 4, 2016, and the film will be directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (last year’s The Kings of Summer). Before that movie starts filming, Tom Hiddleston will be starring in the Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light, along with Elizabeth Olsen (who plays Scarlet Witch next year in Avengers: Age of Ultron). The strange thing is that this week, Chris Hemsworth (AKA Thor to Hiddleston’s Loki) signed to star in a completely different movie that’s also (fictionally) about Hank Williams. I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive is based upon a novel by country rock musician Steve Earle. Hemsworth will play a San Antonio doctor and morphine addict who finds himself haunted in 1963 by the ghost of Hank Williams, ten years after the singer’s death (which he may have been involved in facilitating). Now, all they need to do is recruit Jeremy Renner to play the ghost.
#3 BOARDWALK EMPIRE STAR JACK HUSTON TO STAR IN THE BEN-HUR REMAKE
HBO’s Boardwalk Empire is now in its final season, and one of the actors who looks to be most benefiting from the show’s success is Jack Huston, who played the disfigured assassin Richard Harrow, and starts filming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on September 24. This week, the English actor landed what might be his biggest role to date, as Jack Huston will be reprising the Charlton Heston lead role in the upcoming remake of Ben-Hur. Based upon the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (and most famously previously adapted as the 1959 film which won 11 Academy Awards), the movie will tell the story of a wealthy Jerusalem merchant whose relationship with a Roman garrison commander named Messala leads to Ben-Hur becoming a slave and, eventually, a chariot racer (with Morgan Freeman playing the chariot trainer). This week, the role of Messala was also cast, with the job going to Toby Kebbell, who will play the new Doctor Doom in next year’s reboot of The Fantastic Four (mention #3!). MGM and Paramount Pictures will distribute Ben-Hur on February 26, 2016. The new version will be directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Night Watch) from a script by Keith Clarke (cowriter of The Way Back) and John Ridley (12 Years a Slave; cowriter of Undercover Brother).
#4 ANGELINA JOLIE TO TACKLE IVORY POACHING WITH EPIC AFRICA
The world is still waiting for the release of Angelina Jolie’s second film as director, the World War II true story Unbroken. In the meantime, Jolie is currently directing herself and Brad Pitt in the drama By the Sea, and this week set up another film which might be directorial effort #4. Angelina Jolie has picked up the rights to the screenplay Africa by Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), based upon the true story of paleo-archaelogist Richard Leakey‘s “battle with ivory poachers that threaten the existence of the African elephant population and the very soul of Africa.” Here’s what Jolie herself had to say about the project: “I’ve felt a deep connection to Africa and its culture for much of my life, and responded immediately to Eric’s beautiful script about a man drawn into a violent conflict that leads him to discover his own profound connection to that same place and people.”
#5 COMEDIAN SETH ROGEN TO STAR IN UNTITLED SETH ROGEN COMEDY
Our apologies for the redundant title, but when a news story comes out with pretty much zero premise details, or a title, the options of what to do with it sometimes run out very quickly. This is one of those times. Seth Rogen will star in an untitled comedy along with Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio on NBC’s Parks and Recreation), who also pitched the story idea and will write the script. The currently untitled comedy will be directed by Anchorman franchise director Adam McKay, who previously worked with Schwartz on The Other Guys, and with Seth Rogen (in small supporting roles) on Step Brothers and the first Anchorman movie. Here’s some of what Rogen had to say about this project: “Every two thousand years the planets of our galaxy align in a perfect line that funnels the cosmic energies of the universe to flow into one perfect comedic collaboration. The time is now. This is that project. Nothing will ever be the same.” Jokes!
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 DOCTOR WHO STAR MATT SMITH JOINS PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES
Last week, we learned that former Doctor Who star Matt Smith was signed to costar in three upcoming Terminator movies, in that (other) wibbly wobbly timey wimey franchise. The English actor is staying busy, as Smith is also now signed to costar in the long-in-development adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which mashes Jane Austen’s novel with, well, zombies. Matt Smith will play the parson Mr. Collins, joining the already cast Lily James (as Liz Bennett), Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, and the aforementioned Jack Huston. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will be directed by Burr Steers, whose three films as director are experiencing a steadily dramatic decline (76% for Igby Goes Down, 55% for 17 Again, and 27% for Charlie St. Cloud), so this is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas.
#3 MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY NOT RETURNING FOR MAGIC MIKE XXL
This week, we learned of two new actresses joining the cast of Magic Mike XXL, but they were sort of overshadowed by word of who won’t be returning for the sequel. Namely, we’re talking about Matthew McConaughey (although Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello will return to reprise their stripper roles). The two actresses who will be joining in on the fun are Jada Pinkett Smith (as the owner of a strip club), and Andie MacDowell, who starred in sex, lies, and videotape, the first movie directed by Steven Soderbergh (who directed the first Magic Mike). The sequel will be directed by Greg Jacobs (Louder Than a Bomb). This story is a “Rotten Idea” because of Matthew McConaughey’s (and Steven Soderbergh’s) absence.
#2 DC COMICS’ SUICIDE SQUAD GETTING CLOSER
It’s probably fitting that this story came out in the same week that we found out that Deadpool is finally getting his own movie. Deadpool in the comics is a member of X-Force and the Weapon X program, and his name, Wade Wilson, was unapologetically inspired by Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke: The Terminator, who is sometimes depicted as being a member of DC’s Task Force X. Task Force X is more famously known as Suicide Squad, which is about a group of super villains who are recruited to work for the government as a way to make up for their past misdeeds (or die trying). (Marvel has a similar team called the Thunderbolts, of which Deadpool is currently a member. Okay, enough with the Deadpool mentions.) Warner Bros and DC Comics have been trying to get a Suicide Squad movie going for several years now, and this week, the project made a significant move forward. Director David Ayer, whose next film will be the WWII tank action movie Fury, is reportedly “circling” the project. The reason this is one of the week’s “Rotten Idea” stories is that when one looks at David Ayer’s Tomatometer page, what you see are a lot of green Rotten splotches (of Ayer’s four films as director, only End of Watch was rated Fresh). The latest Suicide Squad script draft was written by Justin Marks, whose only RT entry is Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.
#1 I KNOW WHAT 1990S MOVIE YOU’RE REMAKING NEXT SUMMER
As much as writers (like this one) might bemoan the waves of remakes, reboots, and retreads, it’s something Hollywood has been doing since (20 years) before someone at MGM got the idea for a color musical version of The Wizard of Oz. Something that you notice, however, when you write about these projects week after week is that the average dates for the original movies (somewhat logically) gradually creep forward with the passing of time. Every movie from the 1980s is already optioned? Great, move on to the 1990s. And there really were few movies with casts as definitely “nineties” as 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr, Ryan Phillippe, Johnny Galecki, and Anne Heche all appeared in the slasher movie (the success of which also inspired a sequel). Producer Neal Moritz has hired Oculus writer/director Mike Flanagan to start work on the remake, which, like the first film, will be adapted from the 1973 novel by Lois Duncan. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas not because of Flanagan’s credits, but because, sometimes, an idea is just “rotten” on its own merits (i.e. enough with the horror movie remakes). Hardly anyone ever remakes pirate movies. How about trying that for a while?
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.