This Week’s Ketchup includes movie development news stories including a Mrs. Doubtfire sequel, and new roles for Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Ferrell, and Brad Pitt.
This Week’s Top Story
ROBIN WILLIAMS TO STAR IN MRS. DOUBTFIRE SEQUEL
This was a slow movie development news week. How do we know that? The only story that received much traction on social media (besides old stories that aren’t really news) was this one. Twenty one years after Mrs. Doubtfire was one of the hit comedy movies of 1993 (it really was!), Fox 2000 has revived plans for the long-in-development sequel to the film. A lot has changed in those 21 years since Mrs. Doubtfire (and since 1996 when Robin Williams also starred in The Birdcage, another movie featuring cross dressing). Of course, a lot has also not changed, including at the movies, where Tyler Perry’s Madea movies have been consistent hits. Another sign that things have not changed as much as we would like is that there was a controversy last year over how images from Mrs. Doubtfire were used in online coverage of transgender issues. Williams and director Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) are both expected to return for the sequel, which is being written by David Berenbaum (Elf, The Haunted Mansion).
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 STEVEN SPIELBERG PRODUCING AND MAY DIRECT THE KIDNAPPING OF EDGARDO MORTARA
Nearly a year and a half after the release of Lincoln, we still don’t know yet what Steven Spielberg’s next directing project will be, although a few different possibilities have occasionally made the news since 2012. Those projects have included the sci-fi movie Robopocalypse, the Moses epic Gods and Kings, the Bradley Cooper movie American Sniper, and a Cortes/Moctezuma movie written 50 years ago by the very late Dalton Trumbo. The latest project that might join that list is an adaptation of the non-fiction book The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara by David Kertzer, which Spielberg is now producing (and might direct). The book tells the true story of a religious controversy in 1858 during which an Italian Jewish child was taken from his parents and raised as a Catholic (eventually becoming a priest, even). The script is being adapted by Tony Kushner, who previously worked with Steven Spielberg on two other historical true stories (Munich and Lincoln). As for Dalton Trumbo, who died in 1976, his life will soon become a movie of its own, with Bryan Cranston playing Trumbo, and Helen Mirren now in talks to play his wife.
#2 BRAD PITT TO PLAY GENERAL MCCHRYSTAL IN THE OPERATORS
The legacy of the military career of General Stanley McChrystal might have gone a different way without the publication four years ago of a Rolling Stone profile that quickly became quite controversial. Hollywood history is littered with biographical movies about powerful figures brought down by their own ambitions or egos, and if that’s the way the movie is interpreted, it may happen again for Stanley McChrystal. Brad Pitt is now producing and is attached to star in an adaptation of the book The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan by Michael Hastings. The movie will be directed by Australian director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom), who is also adapting the screenplay. The Hollywood Reporter describes the book as depicting, “the rise and fall of General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and offers a behind-the-scenes portrait of our military commanders, their high-stakes maneuvers and the political firestorm that shook the United States.”
#3 LEONARDO DICAPRIO TO GET MAULED BY A BEAR IN THE REVENANT
Leonardo DiCaprio and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel, Amores Perros) will work together for the first time on an adaptation of the Michael Punke novel, The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge. Leonardo DiCaprio will play “a 19th century fur trapper who is mauled by a grizzly bear, left for dead and then robbed. When he survives against all odds, he sets out on a treacherous journey to exact revenge on his betrayers.” Filming is expected to start this September, and The Revenant is expected to be released in the awards season of late 2015. Inarritu’s next released film before The Revenant will be Birdman, featuring Michael Keaton as an aging actor living in the twilight years following playing a very famous superhero.
#4 HOT STUFF THE LITTLE DEVIL TO RAISE HELL FOR DREAMWORKS ANIMATION
This probably dates this particular writer quite a bit, but one of my favorite “kids comic books” back in the day was Hot Stuff the Little Devil, published by Harvey Comics. He was a character that Hellboy creator Mike Mignola was clearly inspired by (Mignola has also spoofed Hot Stuff with shorts called Hellboy Junior). Basically, Hot Stuff the Little Devil is literally a little devil baby, complete with diapers and an adorable little pitchfork. And Hot Stuff is now in development as yet another character that today’s kids have never heard of, but will get a DreamWorks Animation movie about him anyway. The movie is being adapted by siblings Wendy and Lizzie Molyneux, who have previously worked on the TV series Bob’s Burgers.
#5 WILL FERRELL AND JOHN C. REILLY TO REUNITE AS BORDER GUARDS
Will Ferrell has starred as an TV anchorman just this side of the Mexican border, and in the telenovella spoof Casa de mi Padre. He’s also worked twice before with John C. Reilly (Talladega Nights and Step Brothers). This week’s new project completes both trifectas, as Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are attached to star in the comedy Border Guards. Frequent Ferrell collaborator Adam McKay will be directing from a script by Jesse Armstrong (In the Loop). Ferrell and Reilly will play “two hapless but earnest friends who decide to give purpose to their lives by protecting America’s borders from illegal immigrants. In the process they find themselves accidentally stranded in Mexico without identification and must sneak back into the U.S.”
#6 JADEN SMITH AND LIEV SCHREIBER TO STAR IN THE SLAVERY DRAMA THE GOOD LORD BIRD
When one movie finds success, that often leads to other movies with similar subjects finally getting their own chance at a greenlight, and usually, that would lead to a cynical response. However, when the subject matter is something like slavery, and the successful film in question was 12 Years a Slave, it might arguably be an example of Hollywood’s greenlighting cliches actually serving an admirable cause. Liev Schreiber and Jaden Smith (After Earth, The Karate Kid) are now attached to star in The Good Lord Bird, an adaptation of the 2013 National Book Award winner by author James McBride. Jaden Smith will play a young slave in Kansas in 1856 who meets the radical abolitionist John Brown (Schreiber). The book was satirical, and features Jaden Smith’s character wearing a dress, and encounters with other historical figures like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. There’s no director announced yet.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 DAVID FINCHER HAS DROPPED OUT OF THE “OTHER” STEVE JOBS BIOPIC
Fans of director David Fincher who were excited about him reuniting with writer Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) for the second movie about Apple cofounder Steve Jobs got some bad news this week. David Fincher has dropped out of the project reportedly over financial bargaining (namely $10 million up front, and control of the film’s marketing). There had also been earlier stories that Fincher’s request for Christian Bale to play Steve Jobs would have also led to a deal breaker, but Bale’s involvement (or lack thereof) wasn’t specifically mentioned as being a cause for Fincher’s departure. David Fincher’s next film in theaters will be Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, on October 3, 2014.
#2 JOHNNY DEPP HAS REPORTEDLY JOINED THE KEVIN SMITH HORROR FILM TUSK
Kevin Smith has obviously worked with some big Hollywood stars in the past (like say, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, obviously), but this week’s announcement is sort of on a whole other level. According to actor Justin Long, who has also been cast in Kevin Smith’s walrus-themed horror film Tusk, Johnny Depp will also have a role. Although the story hasn’t been officially confirmed, Kevin Smith had previously hinted that he had landed a major movie star for a supporting role that will only require two days of filming. Michael Parks, Haley Joel Osment, and Genesis Rodriguez will also be in Tusk. Here’s a link to Kevin Smith’s RT Tomatometer page.
#1 JOHN LEGEND ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR A FOUND FOOTAGE DANCE MOVIE
When people look back at the sort of annoying movie trends of the years before and after 2010, “found footage” will almost certainly not be remembered 100% fondly. It is certainly true that audiences turn up for (some of) these movies, but the whole “shaky cam” thing is definitely an acquired taste (that doesn’t work with all types of stories, either). Will audiences tolerate the format for a dance movie, for example? R&B singing star John Legend is testing the waters with Breaking Through, a collaboration with Step Up: All In screenwriter John Swetnam. Put another way, the production is describing Breaking Through as a “documentary-style dance drama for the YouTube generation.” It’s (not really) a convincing argument. Why stay at home watching people dance in videos on your tablet when you can go to a movie theater and pay $10-$15 a ticket to see… basically the same thing?
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.