This week’s Ketchup includes movie development news stories about The Flintstones, the 1990s kids show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Stephen King’s The Stand, and reboots/remakes of Lethal Weapon and Private Benjamin. There’s also new roles for Chris Hemsworth, Angelina Jolie (and Brad Pitt), Liam Neeson, and Channing Tatum.
This Week’s Top Story
MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS STILL LOOKING FOR THEIR MISSING APOSTROPHE
The week before Godzilla returns to theaters (on 5/16/14), a deal has been announced to bring another franchise with Japanese monster roots back to the big screen. Lionsgate and Saban Brands are partnering to develop and produce a new live action feature film based on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which debuted as part of the Fox Kids afternoon TV block in 1993. The show quickly became a hit that led to two theatrically released feature films in 1995 and 1997. The FOX Kids show began as an adaptation of the Japanese TV series Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, but this movie is expected to be a direct adaptation of the FOX series. Haim Saban praised Lionsgate thusly: “They have the vision, marketing prowess and incredible track record in launching breakthrough hits from The Hunger Games to Twilight and Divergent.” Of course, if Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is going to replicate the success of those films, Lionsgate might need to stress a strong female heroine, of which MMPR has two (Yellow Ranger and Pink Ranger). No screenwriters or director deals have been announced yet, and there’s no indication of what the storyline might entail, although it’s likely that the movie will be a fresh reboot of the franchise. We also don’t yet have a release date for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but it’s likely to come after other upcoming kids-TV-adaptations Ninja Turtles and Jem and the Holograms. Maybe the reboot can explain what a “Morphin” is.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 LIAM NEESON TO APPLY HIS VERY PARTICULAR SET OF SKILLS WHEN A MONSTER CALLS
Liam Neeson has signed with Focus Features to play the title creature in their adaptation of Patrick Ness’ award winning children’s novel A Monster Calls. The film will also feature Felicity Jones, and will be directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible, The Orphanage). The premise is described as being about “a young boy who attempts to deal with his mother’s illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales that deal with courage, loss and faith.” Focus Features has scheduled A Monster Calls for October 14, 2016. In other monster movie news, Legendary Entertainment is taking on Kevin Smith’s recently announced Anti-Claus with their own horror comedy about the Christmas-themed monster the Krampus, to be written by Trick ‘r Treat writer/director Michael Dougherty.
#2 WILL FERRELL BRINGING THE FLINTSTONES BACK AS AN ANIMATED MOVIE
A few years after Seth McFarlane first announced plans (which were scrapped in 2012) for a new Flintstones TV series, the once super popular prehistoric family appear to be on their way to finally being revitalized as an animated feature film. This time around, the famous Flintstones fan favoring the family with financing is Will Ferrell, who with producing partner Adam McKay, is working with Warner Bros Animation on the new Flintstones feature film, which is being written by Chris Henchy, writer of the Will Ferrell comedy The Campaign. This animated film follows two previous live action Flintstones movies (with different casts) in 1994 and 2000, both of which have (very) Rotten Tomatometer scores. Warner Bros Animation also this week announced release dates for two “mystery movies” on February 10, 2017, and February 9, 2018. One of those could be the also recently announced animated Scooby-Doo movie, and the other could be The Flintstones. Both February dates are likely reactions to how well The LEGO Movie performed with a release date of February 7, 2014. In other movies-based-on-1960s-TV-comedies news, plans for a Green Acres movie were also announced this week.
#3 OCTAVIA SPENCER AND LESLIE MANN TEAM UP AS LAS MADRES
With The Other Woman performing well at the box office, Leslie Mann’s stock in Hollywood appears to be on an upswing. This week, the comedic actress made a deal with DreamWorks to costar in the crimefighting comedy Las Madres (that’s Spanish for “The Mothers”), which like The Other Woman will have three female coleads. Mann was quickly joined by Octavia Spencer, who won an Academy Award for her role in 2011’s The Help. Mann and Spencer will play “unemployed friends who decide their only chance at economic opportunity in today’s climate is to go after a criminal with a reward for his capture.” Las Madres doesn’t have a director yet. The project got its start as a script by Lona Williams, a staffer on The Simpsons, and is currently being rewritten by Pam Brady, one of the producers of South Park.
#4 CHRIS HEMSWORTH MAY JOIN LETHAL WEAPON, BUT WHO’S TOO OLD FOR THIS [STUFF] NOW?
Following the success of 21 Jump Street, studios are continuing to develop projects that revive old cop movies and TV shows. One of the most successful cop movie franchises of all time was Lethal Weapon, and so yes, Warner Bros is planning to reboot it. This week, we learned that Thor and Rush star Chris Hemsworth has been offered one of the leads in the Lethal Weapon reboot, which will be directed by Justin Lin (Fast & Furious 6). The premise reportedly revolves around a cop’s son, which seems to leave open the possibility of the return in cameo roles of Danny Glover and/or Mel Gibson. If Chris Hemsworth is going to be the “new” younger cop, that leaves the question open as to who, in the 21st century, is too old for this scheiße? If Warner Bros wants to gently rib their Distinguished Competition, perhaps they could partner Hemsworth up with Samuel L. Jackson? In other news which we’re going to say is also related to the success of 21 Jump Street, Channing Tatum made a deal this week with Sony Pictures to produce and star in an untitled crime thriller. Tatum will play a police detective in the late 1970s who goes deep undercover to investigate a notorious mob boss.
#5 HUGH JACKMAN TO APPEAR AS WOLVERINE BACK-TO-BACK IN X-MEN: APOCALYPSE AND THE WOLVERINE 3
Now 45, Hugh Jackman has been increasingly expressing interest in someday retiring from being the best there is at what he does. Or, at least, from playing a Canadian mutant superhero in the movies. We’re sure he’ll *always* be the best (and that what he does, despite what you may have heard, is actually, very, very nice). Anyway, that day will come, but apparently not before 2016, because Hugh Jackman revealed this week that he will indeed be playing Wolverine once again two more times, first in X-Men: Apocalypse (5/27/16), and then in The Wolverine 3 (3/3/17). The plan this time around will be for the two movies to film as closely to “back to back” as possible to allow the aging Australian dancer-turned-actor as little time in between (to minimize on the stress of all that body development and crazy caloric intake). In other Marvel-movies-from-Fox news, Reg E. Cathey, costar of HBO’s The Wire and OZ, was announced this week as signing on to play Doctor Storm, father of Sue and Johnny, in the reboot film The Fantastic Four (6/19/15).
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 BRAD PITT AND ANGELINA JOLIE MAY COSTAR TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE MR. AND MRS. SMITH
Screenwriter Angelina Jolie made her feature film debut in 2011 with In the Land of Blood and Honey, and already, with her second movie, it looks like she might have landed a big star in Brad Pitt. And if things go her way, Jolie might even get to share screen time with him. We kid, of course. Obviously, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have been seen together before, in the 2005 spy comedy Mr. and Mrs. Smith (which has a slightly Rotten Tomatometer score of 59%). We know pretty much nothing else about the script at this point, including the premise or genre (or whether Pitt’s Plan B will produce). The next step is for Jolie and Pitt to figure out which studio will distribute their second movie together.
#3 REBEL WILSON TO STAR IN REMAKE OF GOLDIE HAWN’S PRIVATE BENJAMIN
Rebel Wilson is now attached to star in New Line Cinema’s remake of the 1980 comedy hit Private Benjamin, which featured Goldie Hawn and Eileen Brennan, both of whom were nominated for Academy Awards for their roles. In the original version, Goldie Hawn played a recent widow who is duped into joining the Army. In this remake, Australian actress Rebel Wilson will play a “redneck” who joins the U.S. Marine Corps with a “rich city girl” friend. Rebel Wilson’s TV series Super Fun Night was also announced this week as being cancelled by ABC.
#2 NAT WOLFF IS THE FIRST CAST MEMBER FOR THE STAND… AND IT’S A NEW CHARACTER?
Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic magnum opus novel The Stand has a lot of a lot of things, including pages (1,152 in the Complete and Uncut edition), subplots, and characters. Specifically, Wikipedia lists 28 separate characters, and even so, those are just the 28 characters that King spends considerable time developing in his novel (some of them have their own supporting cast and back story, etc). The reason all of this is of import here is that Warner Bros and CBS Films have announced the first cast member for their adaptation of The Stand, and it’s 19-year-old Nickelodeon star Nat Wolff. That’s not the Rotten part. No, the really bizarre detail to this story is that Josh Boone, director of The Fault in our Stars (which Nat Wolff is costarring in with Shailene Woodley), has revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that “he’s writing a part specifically for Wolff.” Because 28 wasn’t enough. (We should acknowledge that Boone may have meant that he’s adapting one of the existing characters, like maybe Harold Lauder or Nick Andros, but… he also hasn’t cleared up this issue on social networking in the two days since publication.)
#1 ROBERTO ORCI TO REPLACE J.J. ABRAMS (IN HIS DIRECTORIAL DEBUT) ON STAR TREK 3
Following initial suggestions that this might happen a while ago, we learned this week that Roberto Orci, who recently split in the movie business from his longtime partner Alex Kurtzman, is now in talks with Paramount Pictures to direct Star Trek 3. Kurtzman and Orci have worked on many projects in the past, but this will be Roberto Orci’s feature film debut as a director. It’s also worth pointing out that if you remove the three movies that Kurtzman and Orci wrote for director J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek, and Star Trek Into Darkness), all of their other RT Tomatometer scores are Rotten. We don’t know yet when Paramount Pictures plans on releasing the next Star Trek, but the franchise celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016, so… maybe then.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.