This week’s Ketchup covers over ten stories from the “film development” angle, including the newest reports about the science fiction sequels Prometheus 2 and Star Trek 3, and the two zombie movies featuring Game of Thrones cast members.
This Week’s Top Story
NO XENOMORPH ALIENS IN PROMETHEUS 2
Through most of the development process leading up to the 2012 release of the science fiction film Prometheus, there was talk online about how the film connected to Ridley Scott’s Alien (and the resulting franchise). The answer ended up being, “yes,” the movie was indeed a prequel to the Alien franchise, including an appearance by the iconic black and oozing “xenomorph” aliens (two years later, we’re going to say that’s not a spoiler anymore). There could reasonably be an expectation that the monsters could appear again. However, this week, director Ridley Scott remarked that this will not be the case, saying, “The beast is done. Cooked.” Continuing, Scott remarked, “There’s only so much snarling you can do. I think you’ve got to come back with something more interesting. And I think we’ve found the next step. I thought the Engineers were quite a good start.” 20th Century Fox had previously scheduled Prometheus 2 for March 4, 2016, but that date has now been given to Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children instead. Ridley Scott is continuing to develop Prometheus 2, along with a sequel to Blade Runner, which now appears more likely to be his next film after The Martian (which Michael Pena is now in talks to join). Finally, in other news regarding the cast of Prometheus, Guy Pearce made the news this week because he will be playing author F. Scott Fitzgerald in the biopic Genius, about famed Scribner editor Max Perkins. Dominic West (from HBO’s The Wire) has also been cast as author Ernest Hemingway, joining a cast which also includes Colin Firth (as Max Perkins), Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, and Laura Linney.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 WILL KIRK AND SPOCK REUNITE ONE LAST TIME IN STAR TREK 3?
When Leonard Nimoy (now 83) confirmed earlier this year that he is suffering from CPOD, and is now wheelchair bound, it was a grim reminder that even our most iconic figures are but truly mortal. This week, we learned of a potential plan to give us one last hurrah for Nimoy’s character of Spock in the upcoming sequel Star Trek 3 (title likely to change). If this report proves accurate (and other factors pan out), we might get to see James T. Kirk and his Vulcan friend Spock on screen together one last time. Reportedly, the Star Trek 3 script “includes a scene that reteams Shatner and Nimoy onscreen as Kirk and Spock for the first time in canon since 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.” There had previously been talk of Shatner also costarring in the first Star Trek reboot film (but eventually, only Spock appeared in the film). Star Trek 3 is expected to start filming sometime in the next year. Meanwhile, William Shatner is currently scheduling a 2014-2015 tour called “Shatner’s World“, which would have to be scheduled around the film, presumably. In related news, director/writer Roberto Orci dropped out of executive producing the Power Rangers reboot this week, to allow more time to focus on his directing of Star Trek 3.
#2 SHREK/NARNIA DIRECTOR TAKES ON NAZI GERMANY WITH BREATH OF BONES (AND OTHER KIDS MOVIES!)
One of the most surprising ways that generations of creative people, and their audiences, have processed the horrors of World War II is through the use of “Nazi’s” as villains in stories and films. The most classic example of this was of course, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was a “four quadrant” movie which thrilled children (of the right age) as well as adults. This week, director Andrew Adamson, whose filmography includes the first two movies of both the Shrek and The Chronicles of Narnia film franchises, announced just such a project. Adamson is attached to direct an adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics mini-series Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem. This World War II fantasy adventure tells the story of a young boy who must help build a Jewish creature called a Golem to help defend his village from an approaching German occupying force. The idea of a high profile Hollywood movie based upon the mythology of the Golem has been a possibility in different forms for years now. The project that got closest was the adaptation of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which included an adventure story involving the “Golem of Prague.” Mattel also made the news this week with their plans for a feature film based upon the toy franchise Ever After High, about the teenage children of famous fairy tale characters. This Ever After High project is being developed by Chernin Entertainment, the production company which gave us Oblivion, the two most recent Planet of the Apes movies, and Ridley Scott’s upcoming Biblical epic, Exodus: Gods and Kings. Finally, Walt Disney Pictures also this week acquired the rights to the children’s series Floors, which will be adapted by screenwriter Jason Filardi (Bringing Down the House).
#3 THIS WEEK IN GAME OF THRONES CASTING: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (AND OTHERS)
Even though filming is well underway for season 5 of Game of Thrones, several cast members are currently lining up work (probably because their characters are either not needed, or not at the locations scheduled for upcoming film). In particular, this week, there was a lot of zombie news. Two members of House Lannister, Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) and Lena Headey (Cersei Baratheon), have joined the adaptation of the “horror mashup” novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, written by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen (sort of). Dance and Headey join a growing cast which also includes Lily James, Sam Riley, Douglas Booth, Bella Heathcoate, Jack Huston, Matt Smith, and Suki Waterhouse. Screen Gems also stepped up this week to distribute the film in the USA. Cersei’s quasi-daughter-in-law Margaery Tyrell (AKA Natalie Dormer) also made zombie news this week by signing on to star in the independent horror film Patient Zero. The film will depict an outbreak of a form of rabies (ala 28 Days Later), and a patient who is able to speak the “language” of the afflected zombie-like people. Finally, in Game of Thrones star casting news which has nothing to do with zombies (that we know of), Peter Dinklage signed on this week to star in an early 20th Century Texas-set mystery thriller called The Thicket. Peter Dinklage will star as a “a crafty bounty hunter named Shorty” who teams up with “a grave-digging alcoholic son of an ex-slave, and a street-smart prostitute” to help a young man pursuing a killer called “Cut Throat Bill” who has kidnapped his sister.
#4 COMEDY TEAM KEY & PEELE REVEAL THEIR MULTIPLE FILM PLANS
The world is still waiting on the big, successful comedy movie which will launch the comedy team of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, AKA “Key & Peele,” into the next level of their cross-platform comedy careers. This week, the two are guest editing Entertainment Weekly, and that was an opportunity for them to talk about their various plans. First up, there’s their project at Paramount Pictures, which will be an adaptation of their “Substitute Teacher” sketch character, as seen on their Comedy Central series. They’re also still working on the previously announced reboot of Police Academy, a mystery project with Judd Apatow, and most suprisingly, a horror film for Darko Entertainment which Jordan Peele hopes to direct.
#5 MARK RUFFALO TO INVESTIGATE CHURCH SCANDALS IN SPOTLIGHT
Filming has started in Boston (before moving on to Toronto) on the drama Spotlight, about the 2001 probe by the Boston Globe’s special investigation team into allegations of systemic cover ups by the Boston Archdiocese of sexual abuse of children by priests. This week, we learned that the drama’s stars will be Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, and Stanley Tucci, along with Billy Crudup, Brian d’Arcy James, Jamey Sheridan, and John Slattery. Spotlight will be directed, and was cowritten, by Tom McCarthy, whose films as director have included The Visitor and Win Win.
#6 PATRICK WILSON AND MATTHEW FOX JOIN WESTERN HORROR FILM BONE TOMAHAWK
We’ve been hearing about a “western horror” film called Bone Tomahawk (which involves cannibal trogdolytes, by the way) for a few years now. This week, Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, The Conjuring) and Matthew Fox (LOST) joined the already cast Kurt Russell and Richard Jenkins (Cabin in the Woods). Bone Tomahawk will be the directorial debut of novelist and screenwriter S. Craig Zahler.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 WILL MATT DAMON AND BRYAN CRANSTON HELP BUILD THE GREAT WALL?
It’s not something that people in Hollywood are likely to love talking about, but there is a long-standing non-PC tradition in movie storytelling which the folks at TV Tropes have memorialized as the “Mighty Whitey.” Broadly explained, the Mighty Whitey is a Caucasian character who travels to foreign lands, and generally excels there better than those native to the region. Indiana Jones, Lawrence of Arabia, Crocodile Dundee, Avatar, and Apocalypse Now are all examples of this trope. Having introduced that concept, let’s now talk about the casting of a new epic called The Great Wall, which, as you can guess from the title, is the story of how the Great Wall of China was constructed. Keep in mind how many “Caucasian men” were probably involved, and also that westerners didn’t first report seeing the Great Wall until the 16th century. Ready? Okay, so in two different stories this week, we learned that two of the potential stars of The Great Wall are Matt Damon and Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston. If they both sign on, this will be their second film as costars, after 2011’s Contagion (although they didn’t really work together much on that one). This is obviously not a story about what horrible actors either one is, but… come on. This adventure epic promises to reveal “the mystery behind why the Great Wall was built, and the secrets hidden beneath its stones.” We also know from this article a few months ago that the film is set in the 15th century (a century before the first Westerners ever reported even seeing the Wall, which was built centuries earlier). The Great Wall will be directed by Zhang Yimou, a former critical darling who’s had a tough time on the Tomatometer since Curse of the Golden Flower in 2006.
#2 JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT MIGHT BE OLIVER STONE’S EDWARD SNOWDEN
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of Hollywood’s promising stars on the rise, and any new project for him is worth keeping an optimistic eye on. Having said that, this week’s news involves a director whose Tomatometer in recent years has been taking a bit of a critical beating. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is now considered the top candidate to play NSA/CIA/DIA leaker Edward Snowden in Olver Stone’s untitled biopic. One reason the title is not yet announced is that the film will be an adaptation of two different sources: the novel Time of the Octopus (about Snowden’s time in Russia), and the non-fiction book, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man. If a deal can be reached with JGL, filming of the Edward Snowden biopic is expected to start in Munich, Germany, in December, 2014. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also still working on an adaptation of the Vertigo/DC Comics character Sandman for Warner Bros. In somewhat related news, we learned this week that the 10+ years of development for the Vertigo adaptation Y: The Last Man came to an end this week (at New Line Cinema, anyway). People trying to figure out WB and DC’s (parent companies of both parties involved here) plans for the next few years have one less project to keep track of.
#1 DIVERGENT STAR MILES TELLER TRASH TALKS DIVERGENT (WHILE PREPARING FOR THE SEQUEL)
There’s actually a second story related to Divergent here that we’ll get into soon, but the big news for fans (or otherwise) of the YA franchise came to us via one of the movie’s stars, Miles Teller (who’s also going to be Reed Richards in the reboot of The Fantastic Four). Speaking about filming Divergent, Miles Teller said that he felt “dead inside,” and that he told his agent, “This sucks.” The reason all of this is rather awkward is that Miles Teller is still signed to return for the sequel Insurgent (as one of the franchise’s villains). So, of course, he sort of kind of apologized. So, what’s changed in between Divergent and Insurgent? Director Neil Burger, who directed the first film, but won’t be returning for the sequel, announced a new project this week. Burger signed on this week to direct All the Old Knives, an adaptation of an upcoming CIA thriller novel. Neil Burger’s past credits have included the Fresh films Limitless, The Illusionist, and Interview with the Assassin, so hopefully, this project will correct his trends. Let’s call this one a retroactive “Rotten Idea of the Week,” for a movie we now know to be Rotten.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.