Weekly Ketchup

Weekly Ketchup: My Three Schwarzenegger Remakes

Plus, a boatload of toys to movies projects.

by | June 5, 2009 | Comments

This week’s Ketchup sees Hollywood continuing its love affair with remakes,
sequels, and movies based upon old toys and comic strip orange cats, as well as
yet another Hamlet movie.


Arnold Schwarzenegger might not be making movies anymore, but his filmography
is quickly becoming one of the most mined resources for remakes and sequels.
First up, there is the news that Columbia has
chosen Total
remake writer: Kurt Wimmer, writer/director behind Equilibrium
and Ultraviolet, and scripter behind in-production projects Salt
(starring Angelina Jolie) and Law Abiding Citizen (Jamie Foxx and Gerard
Butler). Next up is

a Moviehole report
of Robert Rodriguez supposed interest for Schwarzenegger
reprising his Dutch Schaefer role for Predators cameo. (That’s the
sequel Rodriguez is producing, scheduled for a July 2010 release.)
And finally, there’s a rumor
from JoBlo
that 1985’s Commando is being eyed for the remake treatment.


The two Garfield movies have proven an audience exists for movies
about fat orange CGI cats, convincing rights holders of Heathcliff to
begin development
of multiple projects, which may include a live-action movie. First is a 2011
direct-to-DVD animated movie, which could also be expanded to a theatrical
release “if the material warrants” it. Heathcliff got his start as
a comic strip
in 1973 (5 years before Garfield), then starred in two different Saturday
morning cartoon shows during the 1980s. Although Heathcliff and Garfield look
very similar, Heathcliff is an alley cat, while Garfield is very definitely a
house cat. Means Heathcliff actually moves around and has adventures, whereas
Garfield traditionally just… sits there.


These days, there’s no shortage of kids book franchises that extend into
dozens of entries, but once upon a time, most school libraries had only three:
The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and…
Tom Swift
, who made his
debut all the way back in 1910. Unlike his detective competitors, Edward
Stratemeyer’s (under the pen name Victor Appleton) Tom Swift was a globetrotting
adventurer and inventor, with many of his ideas eventually becoming realities,
with the most famous example being the Taser, which is an acronym that stands
for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle. Other examples include the electric
railroad, FAX machine and the house trailer. Tom Swift is also in general one of
the earliest examples of the “boy adventurer,” and so with Jonny Quest
set to get his own movie soon, it’s perhaps no surprise that Columbia Pictures
has acquired the
for a Tom Swift movie as well. The idea of a Tom Swift movie is not
new, as in the 1960s, there were plans for a movie musical starring Gene Kelly,
and there was another attempt in the 1970s. Tom Swift is being coproduced and
will be directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, the visually creative director who gave us
movies like Men in Black, The Addams Family, Wild Wild West
(which despite outright sucking did indeed look great and featured a lot of
Swift-like steampunk inventions) and the day-glo Pushing Daisies TV


As Hollywood’s reboot/remake fever continues to get really crazy, people are
right to worry whether true classics like The Godfather and Citizen
might be next. With horror, one movie that has achieved comparable
status is The Exorcist. Vertigo Entertainment, the company behind the
J-horror remakes like The Ring and The Grudge, probably could have
secured the rights to remake The Exorcist, but instead have opted a
slightly higher moral road and optioned the rights to
the original book,
The Real Story Behind the Exorcist: A Study of the Haunted Boy And Other
True-Life Horror Legends from Around the Nation’s Capital
. This book doesn’t
attempt to tell the story of the 1949 true story that inspired William Blatty to
write The Exorcist, but instead recounts a reporter’s attempt to find the
possessed boy, sixty years earlier. So, if anything, this is a sequel. Even if
it is trading on the fame of another movie, The Real Story Behind the
sounds like an attempt to take a somewhat original angle.


In March, The Haunting in Connecticut opened to a surprising $23
million, so it’s no surprise Lionsgate is
developing the concept
into a trilogy. Like Connecticut, Haunting in New York and
Haunting in Georgia
will be based on episodes from
, the paranormal reenactment series that airs on the Discovery
Channel. New York will be about a single mother whose mentally handicapped
daughter appears able to communicate with spirits, while Georgia will
tell the tale of a four year-old girl with imaginary friends, whom the girl’s
parents suspect might be evil ghosts (and yes, this element was part of The
Amityville Horror
as well) when their daughter wakes with claw marks across
her face. In both stories, families turn to paranormal experts. Given
Lionsgate’s love for extending horror franchises for as long as possible (Saw),
this might just be the tip of the iceberg. Maybe in 2049, your kids will be
talking about plans for The Haunting in New Hampshire and The Haunting
in Nebraska


In a six-year Hasbro toy deal that included the rights to Ouija,
, Candyland and Battleship, the first movie to receive
a greenlight for Universal will be Stretch Armstrong, slated for an April
15th, 2011 release. Based upon the obscure 1970s toy that let kids pull on a
barechested man’s rubber arms and legs, Stretch Armstrong is being
produced by Brian Grazer, who commented that Stretch is “a character I have
wanted to see onscreen for a long time.” Afterwards, he probably asked for
agreement from the crowd and heard back only the sound of crickets. Steve
Oedenkerk (Patch Adams, Evan Almighty) is working on the
screenplay, and there’s no word yet as to who will direct, although
with the release date less than two years away, Universal will have to decide
soon. In other Universal kid movie news, and because I didn’t know where else to
stick it, the studio this week has pulled the Where’s Waldo? project
out of turnaround
from Paramount and Nickelodeon. Maybe why it fits at universal is that, like
Stretch Armstrong
, it’s hard to see (get it?) how they will stretch (zing!)
the concept into a 90+ minute movie.


Doing the publicity rounds for the DVD release of Valkyrie, director
Bryan Singer revealed
this week
that he is “possibly” interested in returning to the X-Men
movie franchise with X-Men Origins: Magneto. It’s looking more and more
likely that Singer won’t be returning for a second Superman movie after
the flawed Superman Returns, but the director is still fondly remembered
for the two X-Men movies he directed, which were very, very good. Singer
makes note, however, that the thematic quandary in directing Magneto will be
that he’s already done a couple of Nazi-themed movies (Apt Pupil and
), as well as the Magneto flashback in X-Men. Says Singer:
“I’ve lived in that Nazi universe for quite a while. I just might need to take a
little break before I do something like that.”


One movie that almost made last week’s Ketchup was The Surrogate, the
next thriller from director Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Total
). This week, the little detail that lands the movie on the list is
news that Halle Berry is
in talks with
20th Century Fox to star. Berry took a couple of years off after 2007’s
Things We Lost in the Fire
to have a baby, and recently filmed the multiple
personality drama Frankie and Alice as her comeback. The Surrogate
is about a couple who discover that the woman they hire to be their surrogate
mother is crazy, but it’s unclear whether Berry would be playing the title
character, or the woman whose fertilized egg she’s carrying. If Halle Berry is
indeed to play The Surrogate, this will complete a “crazy lady” trilogy
of sorts, following Gothika and the aforementioned Frankie and Alice.
The Surrogate was written by the father/son team of Rod and Bruce Taylor
(The Brave One) from a novel by Kathryn Mackel, and although there’s no
filming start date yet, the casting of Halle Berry suggests it might be sooner
rather than later.


Hamlet is one of William Shakespeare’s most movie-adapted plays, with
previous actors playing the Danish prince including Laurence Olivier, Niccol
Williamson, Mel Gibson, Kenneth Branagh, and Ethan Hawke, who, at 29, at the
time currently holds the record as the youngest actor, notable since Hamlet is
supposed to be young. Emile Hirsch, 24 and star of Into the Wild and
Speed Racer
, wants to break that record. He’s
come up with an idea
for a modernized American Hamlet as a “suspense thriller” about “a young
man [who] must decide whether to kill his uncle to avenge the death of his
father.” This

new Hamlet
will be directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight,
Lords of Dogtown, also starring Hirsch) from a script by Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia,
The Painted Veil). Overture Films (Traitor, Righteous Kill)
hopes to start production soon after the script is finished.


This week saw the announcement of two thematically-tied movies: they’re both
for kids and features an ensemble of monsters. First up is the stop-motion
animation project

Monster Safari
, which will set off Interweb nerd bells because it
represents a collaboration between screenwriters Craig Zobel and Matt Chapman,
(creators of Homestarrunner), Screen Novelties (the company behind
Robot Chicken
and Moral Orel), and the Jim Henson Company (The
, obviously). Monster Safari is the story of “what happens
when the Earth’s monsters come out of hiding and a pair of bumbling
crypto-zoologists spring into action to save them from a ruthless big-game
hunter.” Another Robot Chicken-related news story: show writer, Dan
Milano, has been
to work on Short Circuit; Dimension Films hopes he’ll bring a
“subversive edge” to the remake. Dimension will be keeping the same look for the
new Number 5, with a producer noting that “we think of Wall-E as an
extended trailer for our film.” Going back to the monster angle, Universal has
made a “big bucks
deal” for an untitled upcoming Mattel toy property, which they will turn into a
musical written by Hairspray team Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
Although no details were revealed about this monster musical, the words “lore”
and “mythology” were used in the article, and it is important to remember that
Universal is the home of such classic monster franchises as Dracula,
, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolfman,
Creature from the Black Lagoon, King Kong, and Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde
. The two possibilities I see are that Universal could see whatever
this new Mattel toy franchise is as being the latest addition to their monsters,
or it could in fact be a toy version OF those monsters.


Recently, Robert Rodriguez confirmed that he would no longer be developing a
remake of Barbarella, the schlocky 1968 sci-fi movie starring Jane Fonda,
which would have starred his girlfriend Rose McGowan. This week, however,
Entertainment Weekly
broke the
that the remake project is being continued by Dino de Laurentiis
(outside Universal, where the Rodriguez project was), with a very different type
of director now attached: Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde,
, 21). Where Robert Rodriguez could be seen as bringing
a frenetic visual energy to a Barbarella remake (see: Grindhouse,
Sin City, Spy Kids, etc), Robert Luketic’s first two movies were
just very vanilla comedies, and 21 was different from them, but nothing
about it suggested anything along the crazy lines of Barbarella.
Basically, this news gets the “Rotten Idea of the Week” tag because the idea of
a Barbarella remake only seemed “fresh” when a director like Robert
Rodriguez was attached. It’s not so much that Barbarella is such a
revered classic that it can’t be touched (in fact, the original was kind of
crappy), but just that Luketic seems like such a bland choice for a remake of a
movie that, despite being flawed, was a randy and sexy landmark of the 1960s.

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. Greg also blogs about the TV show Lost at TwoLosties.Blogspot.com.

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