This week’s Ketchup includes movie development news for three toy/game adaptations from Hasbro, movies based on Little House on the Prairie and Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and new movies for Amy Adams, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Renner, Sam Rockwell, and Meryl Streep.
This Week’s Top Story
MORE TOY MOVIES COMING: MONOPOLY, ACTION MAN, AND… HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS?
In recent years, whenever there was some ridiculous movie development story for a non-narrative toy like View-Master or Candyland, a popular joking remark by online commenters involved the toy game Hungry Hungry Hippos. Well, laugh on, fanboys, because Hasbro is going for it. After many of their efforts (except Battleship and the upcoming Ouija) at Universal Pictures were eventually shelved, the toy company has locked up a new deal with the Emmet/Furla production company, best known for star-driven action/thriller movies like Rambo, the upcoming Schwarzenegger/Stallone project The Tomb, and the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man (yes, that one). The deal covers three game/toy properties, the first of which to be filmed will be based on the board game Monopoly. Hasbro has been trying to get the Monopoly movie going for years now, including a time when Ridley Scott (who will now just produce) was going to be the director. The second is a toy, not a game, and it’s called Action Man. Action Man isn’t that well known in the USA, because we have G.I. Joe, which Action Man was basically a British clone of, back in the 1960s. And then, finally, there’s the toy game Hungry Hungry Hippos, where players try to make their little plastic hippos swallow marbles. Hungry Hungry Hippos will be an animated children’s movie, but even so, that still doesn’t explain why anyone thinks an 80+ minute feature film can be built up around a non-narrative toy from back in 1978. As for the snark, movie fans will just have to come up with a new joke. Say, there hasn’t been a Fruit of the Looms movie announced yet…
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 LET ME IN/CLOVERFIELD DIRECTOR GETS UP EARLY FOR THE DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
A little over two weeks ago, fans of Rise of the Planet of the Apes were disappointed to hear that the film’s director Rupert Wyatt had dropped out of also directing the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The reason given was that Wyatt was uncomfortable with guaranteeing completion in time for 20th Century Fox’s planned release date of May 23, 2014. Fox was able to quickly replace Rupert Wyatt, however, with another rising star director. Matt Reeves has been writing and directing since the 1990s and the David Schwimmer comedy The Pallbearer. Reeves’ second film was the shaky-cam monster movie Cloverfield, but it was in his third film, the remake of Let the Right One In called Let Me In, that Reeves’ directorial style seemed to emerge. Since that film, Reeves has been in discussions for various movies, including, until recently, Warner Bros’ plans for a new movie based on The Twilight Zone. The script that Reeves will be working from is by the same screenwriting team as Rise of the Planet of the Apes, continuing on following that film’s cliffhanger ending.
#2 WHO KNEW LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE WAS ON THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS?
It’s pretty much de rigeur in Hollywood to pigeonhole directors into specific genres and styles. There are some, however, that either bounce around from film to film, or make a drastic shift at some point in their careers. David Gordon Green is one such director, starting off with three indie dramas (George Washington, All the Real Girls, and Undertow), befor switching to wacky comedies like Pineapple Express, Your Highness, and The Sitter. That introduction is really required to understand why the following story is not a “Rotten Idea.” David Gordon Green is in talks with Sony Pictures to direct a big screen feature film based upon Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Obviously (super obviously, let’s accentuate), the idea of the Pineapple Express guy directing Little House on the Prairie seems bizarre wrong, but if you ignore his recent comedies and describe him as the Sundance darling that he properly is/was, then this seems like a pretty awesome and appropriate project, a return to Green’s roots. The seriousness of this new Little House on the Prairie is driven home a bit by the addition that the script is being adapted by Abi Morgan, the writer of the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, and Steve McQueen’s cowriter on the NC-17 sexual addiction drama Shame. Anyway, Little House on the Prairie was, as most people know, previously adapted as a 1974-1983 TV series (among other adaptations), and was the third novel in a series of twelve by Laura Ingalls Wilder, about her youth in the American Midwest frontiers. The fact that there are so many other books in the series, just waiting to become a new Harry Potter/Hunger Games-style movie franchise, is probably also appealing to Sony Pictures.
#3 MERYL STREEP’S MUSICAL RETURN MAY TAKE HER INTO THE WOODS
One of the key films in Meryl Streep’s recent streak of box office successes was the adaptation of the ABBA musical Mamma Mia. Streep’s performance in that film made it seem likely that she would eventually do another musical, and this week, we found out what that film might be. Chicago director Rob Marshall has been considering a few different projects after last year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and he appears to have settled upon the adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods. The timing couldn’t be much better, either, as Into the Woods predicted by about 25 years the current fascination in both television (Grimm, Once Upon a Time) and film (the list is too long) with fairy tale characters. To get things going, Rob Marshall recently staged a script reading, and the participants included both Broadway favorites, and a few movie stars that the rest of us (let’s be honest) might actually recognize. That list includes Christine Baranski as the Stepmother, Allison Janney as Jack’s Mother, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, and Patrick Wilson as Cinderella’s Prince. Meryl Streep was not there for the reading, but she’s reportedly in talks for the lead role as The Witch. As for the other names on that list, it should be stated that just because they were at the reading, not all of those performers will necessarily end up being in the movie.
#4 AMY ADAMS AND JEREMY RENNER JOIN DAVID O. RUSSELL’S NEXT MOVIE
This story concerns an untitled project from director David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings) which was formerly known by two words, the first of which was American, and the second was what B.S. stands for. This untitled drama is based on a true story of a financial con artist and his mistress who are forced to work with an “out of control” federal agent to turn the tables on other con artists, mobsters, and politicians, including a New Jersey state assembly member. Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper have been signed on for a while now to play the financial con artist and the federal agent, respectively. This week, we found out that Amy Adams has been cast as the mistress, and that Jeremy Renner has landed the role of the New Jersey politician. This will be David O. Russell’s first time working with Jeremy Renner, but second time with each of the other stars (Adams and Bale in The Fighter, Bradley Cooper in the upcoming The Silver Linings Playbook). Filming begins at various locations in the NY/NJ area in February, with Columbia Pictures expecting to release the film in late 2013.
#5 THE “MOBY DICK IN SPACE” MOVIE WILL PROBABLY BE A LOT SMARTER THAN ITS LOGLINE SUGGESTS
There are two sides to this story, one of which has been greatly overshadowed online this week by the first. Mobius is the title of a science fiction thriller that has been described as Moby Dick in outer space, as a spaceship captain becomes obsessed with controlling a mysterious alien of great girth and power. That part alone could be perceived as potentially being really, really silly, or pretty awesome. Here’s the awesome part. Mobius (which may get a title change to avoid confusion with another Mobius) will be directed by Lynne Ramsay (Morvern Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin). Clearly, Mobius will be a huge departure for Ramsay, who is known for small indie character piece dramas, which this writer thinks sounds very intriguing. However, we will have to wait a while, because first, Lynne Ramsay will be directing the western Jane Got a Gun, starring Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender.
#6 MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY TO STAR IN THE AIDS DRAMA THE DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB
Matthew McConaughey and Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien) will star in the independent drama The Dallas Buyer’s Club. The film will tell the true story of a Texas electrician (McConaughey) diagnosed with AIDS who started a smuggling ring to bring alternative AIDS medicines into the USA, putting him at odds with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Hilary Swank was previously attached to costar in an unknown role, but she has since dropped out, and the role is being recast. The Dallas Buyer’s Club will be directed by Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee (The Young Victoria), with filming scheduled to start in New Orleans in November.
#7 SAM ROCKWELL AND OTHERS JOIN AGENT COULSON IN TRUST ME
Although most people know him as Agent Coulson from The Avengers and other Marvel movies, actor Clark Gregg also directed the 2008 Chuck Palahniuk adaptation Choke, starring Sam Rockwell. (Just as a footnote, it’s interesting that none of the online articles about this story mentioned that fact.) For his second film, Clark Gregg also wrote the script called Trust Me, in which Gregg will star as an unsuccessful entertainment agent (and former child star) who stumbles upon a new 13-year-old client who is a brilliant acting prodigy (played by newcomer Saxon Sharbino). Sam Rockwell will have one of the other larger roles in the independent ensemble comedy (possibly as the boy’s abusive father, but that’s not confirmed yet). Other cast members will include Alison Janney, Niecy Nash, Amanda Peet, Molly Shannon, and real life couple Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy. In closing, this article really shouldn’t go without mentioning that the lead character sounds a lot like the Michael J. Fox character in the 1993 comedy Life with Mikey. As for the Fresh rating… yes, the RT Tomatometer scored Choke a Rotten 54%, but this writer is just going to over rule that; Choke was pretty great. But, in fairness to the RT Tomatometer, let’s just go ahead and call it “borderline Fresh.”
#8 EMILIA CLARKE FROM GAME OF THRONES JOINS JUDE LAW IN DOM HEMINGWAY
Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones) and Academy Award nominee Demian Bichir (A Better Life) have signed on to join Jude Law in the independent black comedy Dom Hemingway. Richard E. Grant (Gosford Park, Withnail and I), Jumayn Hunter and Madalina Ghenea will also costar in the story of a recently released ex-con safecracker (Law) who travels to the south of France to claim what he’s owed for the crime that sent him to prison. Dom Hemingway will be directed by Richard Shepard (The Matador, The Hunting Party), whose RT Tomatometer scores are split right in the middle, so let’s call this film a borderline Fresh Development. Going back to Emilia Clarke, she’s one of several actresses revealed this week to be testing for the role of Steve Rogers’ 21st century love interest in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.