Some unforseen circumstances kept the Weekly Ketchup from being published last week (you can read it here), but this week the column returns, featuring casting news for Iron Man 2 and Watchmen director Zack Snyder’s next movie, as well as news about biopics about John Lennon, Edgar Allen Poe and the “real” Romeo and Juliet?
The really interesting part of the Iron Man 2 casting process kicked in this week as Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell were both announced as being in talks to play characters that suggest that the plot will closely resemble one of Iron Man‘s most memorable story arcs, Armor Wars, in which Tony Stark travels around the world, beating down several super villains who are wearing armor derived from his patents. Although The Hollywood Reporter describes Mickey Rourke’s character as Whiplash, I’m pretty sure Variety has it right when they say that he will be playing a Russian arms dealer who calls himself Crimson Dynamo, because if Iron Man has one classic villain in an armor suit that would be awesome in a movie, it would be Crimson Dynamo. Fueling the idea that Armor Wars is the plot, Sam Rockwell is in talks to play Justin Hammer, the arms dealer who is really at the center of that story. The casting process is still underway for another enticing character, “Natasha,” who has got to be Natasha Romanov, also known as one of the sexiest characters in comics (ever), Black Widow, and a future member of the Avengers. My next question for Iron Man 2 is whether the Crimson Dynamo will be the only armored foe, or whether other Armor Wars characters like the Beetle, the Controller, Titanium Man and (one of my favorite villains) Stilt-Man might also make the cut.
In a surprise announcement, considering the apparent high profile nature of the project, McG (Charlie’s Angels, We Are Marshall) has been signed by Disney for his next project, in between Terminator: Salvation and the fifth Terminator movie. Going back to the basis for their very first live-action movie, back in 1954 (and also the basis for a pretty cool Disney World ride), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo will be a prequel about the origins of Captain Nemo , the Indian prince who built his own submarine, the Nautilus, and traveled around the world. Captain Nemo was featured in two novels by Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Mysterious Island), to which this movie will be a prequel. One has to wonder if Disney might not have plans to follow this movie up with adaptations of those two books, and call it a trilogy. I’m particularly a fan of Mysterious Island, which my favorite show, Lost, owes a lot of homage to. Captain Nemo, which was written by Bill Marsilli (cowriter of Deja Vu) is expected to start filming later this year.
Leonardo DiCaprio is producing and expected to star in Beat the Reaper, based on a novel by UCSF hospital intern Josh Bazell, about a former hitman turned doctor who runs into a mobster who recognizes him from his life before he went into the witness protection program. There’s no word of a writer or director yet, so this one is probably is a few years from happening, but it is interesting how DiCaprio’s career looks like it might regularly feature movies set in the world of organized crime.
In what is an impressive display of stunt casting, the large ensemble voice cast of Quantum Quest, a $10 million CGI animated movie being made in Taiwan, includes two Captain Kirks (Chris Pine and William Shatner), two Darth Vaders (Hayden Christensen and James Earl Jones), two Jedi (Mark Hamill and Samuel L. Jackson), Jason Alexander, Sandra Oh, Amanda Peet and Abigail Breslin. Quantum Quest is a sci-fi adventure about a photon (Pine) who lives in the sun who finds himself in the middle of a conflict between the Core (Shatner) and the Void (Hamill)… whatever that means. NASA has contribued space footage to the movie, which is expected to debut in IMAX theaters this fall, 2009. Quantum Quest is being directed by Dan St. Pierre (codirector of Everybody’s Hero) and Harry “Doc” Kloor (writer of four Star Trek: Voyager episodes), who also wrote the script.
Now, perhaps it should be a warning when a newspaper article uses the word “excepted” when they probably mean “expected,” but Australia’s The Daily Telegraph is reporting that Hugh Jackman and Hugo Weaving are “excepted” to be lending their voices to two of the owls in the fantasy adventure, Guardians of Ga’Hoole, the CGI movie that is the next project for Watchmen director Zack Snyder. In other Hugh Jackman news, this week it was also reported that Jackman has dropped out of Steven Soderbergh’s rock and roll Cleopatra movie, Cleo.
New Line Cinema has hired D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) to direct Jack the Giant Killer, a drama that takes an “adult look” (boom-chicka-boom-boom-chicka… no, probably not) at the fairy tale of the same name, which is also closely tied to the similarly themed fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack the Giant Killer was previously made as a 1962 movie starring Kerwin Mathews. This version is set in a magical land where men and giants live in peace, until a princess is kidnapped, and Jack must lead an expedition to bring her back. Darren Lemke (2004’s Lost, not the TV show) wrote the original script, which has been rewritten by Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard; cowriter of the upcoming Race to Witch Mountain). Caruso’s last two movies both starred Shia LeBeouf, so one has to wonder if they might want to make it a trifecta, and cast Shia as Jack?
The three leads for the young John Lennon biopic, Nowhere Boy, were announced this week. Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient, I’ve Loved You So Long) will star as John’s Aunt Mimi, who raised him for much of his childhood. The young Lennon will be played by Aaron Johnson, who just finished starring in the teen superhero movie, Kick-Ass, and his mother Julia will be played by Anne-Marie Duff (The Magdalene Sisters). Filming starts on location in Liverpool in March.
A new production company called FilmNation is getting started with The Raven, a crime thriller set in the final days of Boston poet/author Edgar Allen Poe, as he gets involved in a serial killer investigation. Poe actually did die under mysterious circumstances, and movie projects about his final days have actually been under development over the years by a few different people, including pop star Michael Jackson (who wanted to star) and visionary director David Lynch.
Remember that awesome, heart-tugging scene in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet where they have a kid? Nope, me neither. Arguably taking its cue from The Da Vinci Code, Universal has picked up the rights to the novel Juliet, by Danish author Anne Fortier, about a modern day woman who starts to suspect she might be descended from that famous, thought to be fictional, couple. The book doesn’t actually come out until 2010, but that possibly gives Universal just enough time to make the movie to match it. James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) will be directing and producing.
In a week when we are blessed to hear of only one remake (and it’s an obscure 1964 movie, at that), a whopping four movies were announced as being shelved, cancelled… dead. First off, there’s Shazam!, the Captain Marvel movie (which can’t be called that because Marvel owns the title rights to their own Captain Mar-Vell characters). Screenwriter John August gives the full skinny on that in his blog ( ), in which he guesses that Warner Bros is reacting to both the failure of Speed Racer (big budget fun for the kids) and the success of The Dark Knight (superhero movies have to be “dark”), while overlooking the success of Iron Man. I personally thought a Shazam! movie could have been a lot of fun, but oh well.
Also being scrapped is the remake of Fright Night, which I’m all for, because the original movie worked just fine. Kids of today, just go rent it and have a great time, and see what Buffy the Vampire Slayer owes her roots to, in my opinion. Also dead is the planned movie adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad Trilogy, according to director Danny Boyle.
Finally, there is Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, generally regarded as one of the greatest sci-fi novels of all time, which has been in development since before I started this business (1997). Talking to The Los Angeles Time, the author revealed that the movie was scrapped in November because Card “did not feel comfortable” with the direction that Wolfgang Petersen wanted to take. No doubt, that’s good news; better no Ender’s Game movie than one that, you know… sucks.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS through his MySpace page or via a RT forum message and Greg also blogs about the TV show Lost, at TwoLosties.Blogspot.com.