This week’s Ketchup features news about two very different biopics, casting news for Sherlock Holmes 2, and the usual assortment of remakes, video game adaptations (though just one this week) and movies that continue ongoing trends like alien invasions and fairy tale reimaginings.
In 2002, Disney teamed up with Square Enix (the videogame company behind the popular Final Fantasy franchise) for Kingdom Hearts, the first in a new franchise of role-playing games that teamed up classic Disney characters with Final Fantasy characters. Now, the studio has announced plans for Magic Kingdom, a movie project that would do something similar for Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, the various “Princess” characters and other favorites from their many movies and theme park attractions. And the somewhat bizarro theme that they would unite them is the idea of Magic Kingdom being like the Disney version of Marvel’s The Avengers or DC’s Justice League of America. It should definitely be mentioned that Marvel Studios is now under the corporate aegis of Disney, so it’s easy to see a corporate synchronicity there as well. The original Magic Kingdom script was written by Ronald D. Moore, creator of the TV shows Battlestar Galactica and Caprica (Moore also cowrote Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: First Contact), and took place at Disneyland. Disney reportedly considers Magic Kingdom a “low priority” (meaning it’s probably a few years from happening), but the studio is currently looking for a new writer to build upon Moore’s original script. Other upcoming Disney movies that may tie into Magic Kingdom (or not) include Cinderella, Guillermo del Toro’s The Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise and Tomorrowland movies, Maleficent, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Snow White and the Seven.
Although the news has shown up everywhere, it shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone that Christopher Nolan is going to direct the next Batman movie. Speaking to Empire this week, he finally confirmed that it would be his next project, and that there is actually a script now (from Nolan’s brother Jonathan). Although the villain (or villains) in Batman 3 are not yet known, actor Edward Norton spoke out this week about his desire to work with Nolan on the project. Norton was asked about whether he would want to play a villain, or specifically the Riddler, and he was positive about either possibility. Edward Norton made news over his parting of ways from Marvel Studios over his starring role in The Incredible Hulk and the subsequent decision to recast Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner in The Avengers. Edward Norton’s enthusiasm for working with Christopher Nolan is also interesting, considering that the two were once competing for theater space when the two magician movies The Illusionist (starring Norton) and The Prestige (directed by Nolan) came out quite close to each other. In other DC her news, two more names emerged as potential directors for the Superman reboot. First, there is Ben Affleck, who has apparently already met with producers about the job and turned it down. Still in the running (in addition to other directors mentioned last week) is Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream). Aronofsky is an especially interesting candidate, as there was a point much earlier in his career where Aronofsky was actually adapting a Batman “reboot” project for Warner Bros, based upon Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. That project was eventually shelved, and was eventually replaced by Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Now, it appears Aronofsky is back in the running to possibly reboot DC Comics’ other most popular superhero.
One of the hot new trends coming to theaters in the next few years is the “alien invasion” movie, which includes next month’s Skyline, as well as Battle: Los Angeles and the Battleship movie. Now, Sam Raimi, in his role as producer (not director), is in talks with Warner Bros for an alien invasion movie of his own, tentatively titled EDF, which stands for Earth Defense Force. The script has already been leaked, and the premise starts off with U.S. and Chinese fighter pilots engaged in a dogfight, who are then attacked by three alien ships that then go on to destroy various global landmarks and military installations. NASA soon discovers signs of a much larger invasion force coming from another galaxy in ten months, forcing the goverments of the world to band together to fend off the incoming invasion. The script by Andrew Marlowe (End of Days, Air Force One) is said to combine elements of Top Gun, Independence Day and The Last Starfighter. The next step for EDF will be for Sam Raimi to find a director who can tackle what is potentially a big-budget “event” movie.
When Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his passenger jet in the Hudson River in January, 2009, saving the lives of all 155 people on board, he was instantly hailed as a true American hero (and rightly so). Sullenberger has since penned his memoirs, entitled Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, which was released earlier this year in May. Flashlight Films and the Kennedy/Marshall Company have now secured the rights to Highest Duty. The producers are eyeing Highest Duty as either a feature film or a TV movie. Sullenberger was hesitant about selling his life story rights was encouraged by fellow pilot Harrison Ford, who suggested “Sully” talk to producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. Their company’s credits include Munich, Seabiscuit and the Bourne movies, and their upcoming releases include Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. There’s no word yet as to any other creative people involved with Highest Duty, including a screenwriter, director or potential star (though one has to wonder if perhaps Harrison Ford might be in the running for the role).
Mick Foley is one of the most successful professional wrestlers of the last 20 years, best known as “Mankind” (among other names he’s used) and for performing for several wrestling promotion companies, including the WWE, WCW, NWA, ECW and currently Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Foley has also written several books, including novels, children’s books and four memoirs. Now, Mick Foley is teaming up with producer Jeff Katz (Shoot ‘Em Up, Snakes on a Plane) for a biopic based upon his life story. The untitled biopic will be directed by extreme sports documentarian Christopher J. Scott (Snowblind) from a script Scott is cowriting with Mick Foley. There’s no word yet as to whether Mr. Socko will also make an appearance in the film.
Last summer, an independent production company called Mysteria Film Group announced that they had acquired the film rights to the 1996 science fiction novel Myst: The Book of Ti’ana, which was a prequel to the popular PC/Mac video game franchise Myst. Now, the Mysteria Film Group has found new film producers partners in the form of Hunt Lowry (Donnie Darko, The Last of the Mohicans) and Mark Johnson (Galaxy Quest and the Chronicles of Narnia franchise). Lowry and Johnson are also working together on the adaptation of the John Grisham novel The Testament. First introduced in 1993, the various Myst games are interactive puzzle games in which the player explores environments and unlocks the secrets of an extensive game mythology, which is expanded upon in the trilogy of prequel novels. Adapting Myst to the big screen is arguably a daunting challenge (especially since the game’s most popular days are now over 10 years in the past), but the involvement of two Hollywood heavy hitters like Hunt Lowry and Mark Johnson is a promising (and surprising) development for the project. The next step for the Myst adaptation is to find a suitable screenwriter.
Last year, during the production of Sherlock Holmes, there were reports and rumors that Brad Pitt may have provided the voice of the detective’s great nemesis Professor Moriarty, which would then lead to Pitt costarring in Sherlock Holmes 2. There were also rumors that director Guy Ritchie was possibly trying to get Daniel Day-Lewis to sign on for the role. Now, the actor who will be playing Professor Moriarty has been revealed, and instead of a major film star, the role has instead gone to Jared Harris. Harris (who is also the son of the late actor Richard Harris) has had dozens of film and TV roles, which include appearances in Happiness, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and his supporting role as Lane Pryce in recent seasons of Mad Men. Additionally, this week Stephen Fry (Wilde, V for Vendetta) was also cast as Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s older brother. Mycroft Holmes was depicted by Arthur Conan Doyle as a British government agent with superior detective skills to Sherlock, but lacking the ambition or interest in pursuing cases to the physically demanding extent that his younger brother does. Warner Bros has scheduled Sherlock Holmes 2 for a release date of December 16, 2011.
Since the blockbuster release of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland earlier this year, 2010 has seen a new wave of plans for movies based on various fairy tales and classic children’s stories. The list is really too long to thumbnail at this point, but perusing the archives of The Weekly Ketchup will surely bring at least one up nearly every week. The latest such project is called Snow White and the Huntsman, and this live-action retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale will, as the title suggests, feature an enhanced role for the Huntsman. Not to be confused with a romantic role (which will still be Prince Charming, although not necessarily called that), the Huntsman will start the film as being ordered to kill Snow White in the woods, but he instead will end up chained to Snow White, on the run, and teaching her how to survive. There’s no word yet what role the seven dwarves will play in this version. Video game commercial director Rupert Sanders (Halo, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) will make his feature film debut, working from a script from Evan Daugherty, also a newcomer to feature films. Snow White and the Huntsman first made the news this week as the object of a studio bidding war, but Universal Pictures quickly emerged as the winner. This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because, as mentioned above, it is just the latest of a wave of similar projects, and it’s not even the only revisionist take on Snow White in the works. Also, the “newbie” status of both the screenwriter and director makes their abilities to effectively reinvent a classic tale highly up in the air.
George Lucas has been talking for a while now about his plans to revisit the Star Wars movies with a conversion to 3D, but this week was when the announcement was made official. Releasing the six movies according to story chronology, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace will be the first 3D conversion, in theaters in 2012. The other five movies will follow at unspecified dates, with the frequency of the re-release of each film (once a year? every six months?, etc) not yet known. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas, first of all because The Phantom Menace is considered by many fans to be a blemish to the reputation of the original franchise. There is also the very concept of 3D post-conversion, and the question of whether the technical problems (dim lighting, blurry objects or backgrounds) can be overcome by the benefit of 3D. Finally, there remains the spectre of potential changes that could be made by George Lucas and Lucasfilms as they revisit the original trilogy (yet again). Will Greedo shoot first at Han Solo twice the next time through?
The films of director Alfred Hitchcock have long been the subject of remakes. Notable examples include the 1998 films A Perfect Murder and Gus Vant’s Psycho remake, as well as 2007’s Disturbia, which was a remake of Rear Window. There have also long been plans to remake The Birds, and many other remake plans that were eventually abandoned. The latest project bears the particularly atrocious title of Teens on a Train, and it is (of course) a remake of 1951’s Strangers on a Train, which was itself an adaptation of the novel by Patricia Highsmith. The teen thriller will be produced by BBC Films and independent British company Slingshot Productions (Tormented, Sugarhouse). Like the source material, Teens on a Train will be about strangers that meet on a train and agree to murder someone for each other. Where this version will depart from the source material (besides the obvious ways) is that one of the two people will be a girl who is also a “raving psychopath.” Teens on a Train was written by Joshua St. Johnson (creator of the UK TV series Material Girl). Filming of Teens on a Train is expected to start in the UK in 2011. The reason for Teens on a Train being the most Rotten Idea of the week should be fairly evident in just the title alone. If there is any good news here, it is that as a British production, there is the possbility that it will never actually be released in the USA.