In this week’s Weekly Ketchup, we’ve got the latest spin-offs, remakes and trilogies, and Disney’s lofty plan for a video game adaptation.
#1 SONY HAS VENOM-OUS PLANS
Following up on rumors from a few months back, Sony has announced that they are developing a Venom movie, spinning off from the villain’s appearance in last year’s Spider-Man 3. The project started with a script by Jacob Estes (Mean Creek) but the studio is now looking to go in a different direction, and is currently looking for a new screenwriter. They’re also looking for a new star, reportedly on the belief that Topher Grace is not a big enough star to carry Venom by himself. As for what is motivating Sony to pursue Venom, I’ve got to think that they are looking at the Joker in The Dark Knight, and thinking that in Venom, they have a charismatic villain (with a huge, grisly smile) that could be spun in a similar direction. Except he’s a huge black goo monster. For more insight, check out the CHUD piece on this story, which I thought was particularly inspired.
#2 MARVIN THE MARTIAN TO BLOW UP YOUR THEATRE. IT OBSTRUCTS HIS VIEW OF CASH.
Warner Bros. has aligned with Alcon Pictures (My Dog Skip, Racing Stripes) to produce a live action / CGI feature film version of Marvin the Martian, the strange little alien with the roman-style helmet that was always trying to blow up Earth in classic Looney Tunes cartoons. There’s no script, or a director, but the pitch concept is that it will be a Christmas movie in which Marvin’s plans to destroy Earth are disrupted when he becomes trapped in a gift box. I can’t quite picture what that last part means, exactly, but I can see why WB would be looking to their Looney Tunes characters for future feature films, as there’s some great untapped quality there. Or it could be another Space Jam.
#3 THE X-FILES 3: I WANT TO MAKE MORE MOVIES
Talking to IGN, X-Files creator Chris Carter talked about where the series would go if they have the chance to make a third movie, this time focusing more on the alien plot. The X-Files: I Want to Believe opened to only $10 million, and was considered a critical failure as well (32% on the Tomatometer), but Carter downplays the importance of box office, it seems, arguing that they weren’t aiming for a blockbuster release, or they wouldn’t have been put in theaters so soon after The Dark Knight. I have a feeling there might indeed be more X-Files movies in the future, but they might not be getting theatrical releases, but that might be a good thing. I’m not sure The X-Files ultimately needs to, or even works, as a huge theatrical experience.
#4 GUILLERMO DEL TORO NOT AFRAID OF THE DARK
Guillermo del Toro (in his producer role) and Miramax are teaming up to develop a feature film version of the early 1970s TV horror movie, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which was about a family moving into a new house that is haunted by strange little furry demon things that live in the basement. This is actually a pretty awesome movie for del Toro to have under his wing, because it fits in very nicely with his theme of a world where magical creatures coexist in the shadows (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy II: The Golden Army). Another horror movie announced this week that seems to have a somewhat similar premise is The Home, which marks the entry into the actual movie business of two of the writers for AICN (Quint, writing and Kraken, directing), with Peter Jackson‘s WETA doing the special effects. The Home is about a firefighter who is nearly killed in a fire, and is recuperating in a nursing home, where he discovers that the residents are being terrorized by something evil that resides in the home. This actually sounds a lot like Bubba Ho-Tep too.
#5 ISAAC ASIMOV’S FOUNDATION: A NEW TRILOGY FOR LOTR PRODUCERS
New Line Cinema founders Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne have a new company, Unique Features, which has a deal with Warner Bros, and one of their first projects is going to be an attempt to do for Isaac Asimov‘s super brainy science fiction epic, The Foundation Trilogy, what they did (or helped do) for J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings, starting with a movie version of the first book, The Foundation, and from there, if it is a hit, adapt the other two books for a full trilogy. The project has been in movie development for decades, mostly at Fox, where Asimov’s I, Robot was produced, but they put it into turnaround a while ago (probably deciding to get out of the Asimov business after I, Robot). The Foundation is a challenging project, as it starts off with a mathematician who develops a way of predicting events on a massive scale, and uses his knowledge of impending galactic chaos to create two “Foundations” on opposite ends of the galaxy, where all the good things of culture can be preserved. As science fiction, it’s top notch. As popcorn munching eye candy… who knows. This is definitely, I think, a movie that you could tie to the success or failure of Watchmen, as that’s another movie that is similarly daring in its intellectualism (or it should be, at least).
#6 THIS WEEK IN ANCIENT MOVIES
Director John Boorman (Excalibur) has announced plans to revive his long planned movie about Hadrian, one of Rome’s “Good” emperors, who is famous for having spent time in England in the 2nd century AD, which included the construction of Hadrian’s Wall, separating England from Scotland. Possibly to be titled The Memoirs of Hadrian (after the novel that it is based upon), the project has a fairly decent budget of $50-60 million, and is scheduled to start filming in Morocco, Rome and Spain in early 2009. Boorman hasn’t had a success in recent years to match his early films like Deliverance and Hope and Glory, but I’ve always thought that this project seemed like one that might do it for him again. That’s it for the Romans this week, but the Greeks got some love as well. Sony has picked up a pitch for a movie about Anabasis, a historical work by the ancient Greek writer, Xenophon, about the journey home of a force of 10,000 Greek soldiers who were sent to assassinate the Persian emperor, failed, and then had to fight their way home across thousands of miles of enemy territory. Curiously, this was supposedly the inspiration for the plot of The Warriors. Although it sounds sort of 300-ish, I could see how this could be a pretty cool premise for a movie. And hey, it’s not a remake.
#7 JOHNNY DEPP AND TIM BURTON MAKING A MOVIE TOGETHER? NO WAY!
Surprising absolutely no one if it is true, AICN is reporting a rumor that Johnny Depp has signed to play the Mad Hatter in director Tim Burton‘s new Alice in Wonderland movie, which will start filming in 2009 for a release on March 5th, 2010. It is true that Burton has been doing casting for the movie recently (Mia Wasikowska was cast as Alice), and obviously, Depp and Burton work together a lot (this would be their 7th film together, and Depp is also reportedly likely to play Barnabas the vampire in Tim Burton’s movie version of Dark Shadows). It would be cool to see Johnny Depp apply his madness to the hatter, but I’m sure the challenge, each time he takes on a bizarre creature like the hatter, is that he has to find a way to do it so that this isn’t a repeat channeling of Willy Wonka, or Jack Sparrow, Ed Wood, etc.
#8 THIS WEEK IN 1970S ROCK AND ROLL MOVIES
Production is scheduled to start this fall on an independently produced musical biopic about The Runaways, the 1970s all-girl rock group that gave the world Joan Jett, who is executive producing. Also lurching closer to production is Howard Stern‘s remake of Rock n Roll High School, which co-starred the Ramones, and is now being written by Alex Winter, AKA Bill from the Bill & Ted movies. The remake was announced several years ago, at the same time as Stern’s plans to remake Porky’s, but this is really the first news about either project since then.
#9 NICOLAS CAGE TO BE SCARED STRAIGHT
Famed horror/thriller director John Carpenter is scheduled to start filming in October of Scared Straight, about a teenager who is at a prison as part of the “Scared Straight” program, when a riot breaks out, and it is up to a convict played by Nicolas Cage to protect him. Carpenter hasn’t had a movie in theaters since 2001’s Ghosts of Mars, but there was a time in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s when he was not only prolific, but revered as one of the best damn horror directors ever. Halloween, The Thing, Prince of Darkness, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, Big Trouble in Little China, They Live, Escape from New York… all classics. I’m not alone, I’m sure, in wishing Carpenter was as prolific today, but I guess the movie budget money just isn’t there for him anymore, or something.
#10 PRINCE OF PERSIA TO INHERIT THE BIGGEST WEEKEND OF 2010?
With filming already underway, Disney has decided to add another year to the wait to see the video game adaptation, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Disney moved the movie from June 19th, 2009 where it would have gone up against the second Transformers movie, all the way to May 28th, 2010, boldly claiming the Memorial Day weekend, often the date where the biggest movie of the summer is released. Right now, only two other movies have claimed May, 2010 dates: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (5/7/10, also a Disney release) and Shrek Goes Fourth (5/21/10). So, the question is whether Disney is so impressed by the visuals that Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and crew are coming up with, that they think it can hold onto that date and rake in tons of cash?