This Week’s Ketchup covers movie development news stories about potential roles for James Franco, Brad Pitt and Denzel Washington, the superhero sequels Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall and Thor: The Dark World, remakes of The Rocketeer, Videodrome and the Jack Ryan franchise, as well as a reflection on the impact following the death of one of Hollywood’s most successful directors.
This Week’s Top Story
R.I.P. DIRECTOR TONY SCOTT, 1944-2012
On Sunday, August 19th, director Tony Scott (and brother of Ridley Scott), committed suicide by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the San Pedro port district of Los Angeles. Scott left behind over 15 major Hollywood productions which included Top Gun, True Romance, Enemy of the State, and four films with Denzel Washington (Man on Fire, Deja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, and Unstoppable). Like many of Hollywood’s top directors, Scott always had a full slate of films in development for the future, and his death leaves most of them in an unknown state, as Scott’s industry friends are still reeling in shock. The highest profile of those planned projects is the Top Gun sequel that Scott and Tom Cruise were scouting locations for as recently as two days before his death. Scott’s development slate also included two remakes: one of Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, and one of Walter Hill’s The Warriors. In 2009, Tony Scott spoke to Rotten Tomatoes exclusively about his plans for the remake of The Warriors, which included a massive gang ensemble crowd scene to be filmed on the very bridge from which Scott took his own life. Other projects that he was attached to included the military crime thriller Narco Sub (which is about exactly what it sounds like), a Mickey Rourke mob thriller called Potsdamer Platz, and a Vince Vaughn film called Lucky Strike set in the world of “jet repossession.” This column is normally dedicated to covering the movies that will be in your theater in the near future, but this week, our headline is dedicated to the loss felt by Scott’s friends and families, and the films we will never see.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 BRAD PITT AND DENZEL WASHINGTON MAY HEAD DOWN TO THE CANDY STORE
Writer/director Stephen Gaghan hasn’t directed a movie since Syriana in 2005, but despite the delay, his return is attracting some major A list star attention. Candy Store is described as a crime thriller about a Brooklyn beat cop who discovers that a global criminal organization is operating right in his neighborhood. Brad Pitt is currently the top choice, and is in negotiations, to play the cop, with the other major role being discussed with Denzel Washington. Christoph Waltz is also in talks with Lionsgate for a supporting role. If the deal can’t be worked out with Brad Pitt, other possibilities include Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Matt Damon. If Denzel Washington drops out, Jamie Foxx has also been mentioned as a possibility for that role. Stephen Gaghan also won an Academy Award for adapting the screenplay for Traffic.
#2 SOON, FEMALE ACTION STARS WILL BE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES… IN A FEMALE VERSION OF THE EXPENDABLES
With The Expendables 2 in theaters this past weekend, that movie is obviously going to be getting a lot of press in this late-August, nothing-much-else-going-on, dog-days-of-Summer period. Enter independent action producer Adi Shankar (The Grey, Dredd 3D, Killing Them Softly), who has announced that he has his own trick casting project in development. Although his film would have no official ties to The Expendables, basically what Adi Shankar is working on is a female version of The Expendables. This has led to movie bloggers and columnists all around the Internet to start compiling their dream casting lists, which usually start with Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton, move on to Angelina Jolie, Milla Jovovich, and Kate Beckinsale, and sometimes name check the likes of Gina Carano, Lynn Collins, or Michelle Rodriguez. Of course, this would be a very good place to note that Adi Shankar’s announcement didn’t mention any actress, specifically, so we don’t actually know for sure who may or may not end up signing up for this movie. In other news, Adi Shankar’s company (which is called 1984 Private Defense Contractors… really), also made the news this week by starting development on an action movie based on the 1990s Rob Liefeld comic book series Bloodstrike. Basically, all that one needs to know about Bloodstrike is that they were super powered government assassins who were brought back from the dead, and two of their members looked a lot like Deadpool and Wolverine.
#3 KURSE IN THOR: THE DARK WORLD WON’T MISTAKE COINCIDENCE FOR FATE
A while back, Christopher Eccleston was cast as Malekith the Accursed, leader of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, in Thor: The Dark World. Just as Loki wasn’t the only villain in the first Thor, Malekith is going to have company in this sequel as well. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who fans of TV shows with very short titles know as both Adebisi (OZ) and Mr. Eko (LOST), has been cast as the Dark Elf warrior Algrim the Strong, AKA Kurse. Eccleston and AAA will be joined by several returning cast members from the first film, which this week we learned will include Kat Dennings as Jane Foster’s friend Darcy Lewis. Marvel Studios has scheduled Thor: The Dark World for release on November 8th, 2013.
#4 THE TOM CLANCY REBOOTS MAY BE A REUNION OF THE STARS OF… THIS MEANS WAR?
Although the film earned a worldwide box office take of $155 million, the 2012 spy-romance-action film This Means War is generally seen as at least a critical flop (25% on the RT Tomatometer). One might think that would be bad news for that film’s male leads, until one remembers that Chris Pine is still the new Captain Kirk, and Tom Hardy had a little movie this summer where he traipsed around with a metal octopus thing over his mouth. Paramount Pictures has had Chris Pine attached to star in their reboot of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character for a while now. This week, it was revealed that for the character of Navy SEAL-turned-CIA-operative John Clark, who will get his own spin off in Without Remorse, Paramount is looking to cast Pine’s This Means War costar, the aforementioned Tom Hardy. Kevin Costner has also been confirmed as accepting an offer to star in both films as the CIA liason for both Jack Ryan and John Clark. The premise of Tom Clancy’s original Without Remorse novel is definitively set during the Vietnam War, which will probably be updated to some place like Afghanistan. The Jack Ryan reboot film is currently scheduled by Paramount Pictures for late 2013, with Without Remorse probably to be expected later on in 2014 or 2015.
#5 JIM CARREY MIGHT LEAD JUSTICE FOREVER IN KICK-ASS 2: BALLS TO THE WALL
Back in 2010, during Conan O’Brien’s “The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour,” Jim Carrey joined O’Brien on stage for a musical number wearing a green-and-yellow-striped Kick-Ass costume. Now, Universal Pictures is apparently attempting to take advantage of Carrey’s status as a Kick-Ass fanboy by starting negotiations for Carrey to actually costar in the sequel, now known as Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall. If the deal goes through, Jim Carrey would play an ex-mafia member called Colonel Stars, who with his brother Lieutenant Stripes forms a superhero group called Justice Forever, who find themselves countered by a team of villains led by the villain from the first film. All of this is based on Mark Millar’s second Kick-Ass mini-series, and Millar is already working on Kick-Ass 3 (the comic book). In addition to returning cast members Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Chloe Moretz, the sequel’s new cast includes Morris Chestnut, Donald Faison, and John Leguizamo. Universal Pictures has already scheduled Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall for June 28, 2013.
#6 THIS WEEK IN JAMES FRANCO NEWS: AS I LAY DYING, HOMEFRONT, THIRD PERSON
Some weeks, you have to figure that an actor tries to get a bulk discount with their publicist by having them announce multiple movies simultaneously. The winner of this week’s Publicist Blue Plate Special is one James Edward Franco. First up, let’s discuss Franco’s directorial debut with As I Lay Dying, based on the novel by William Faulkner, about a family fulfilling a dying woman’s last wish to be buried in her Mississippi hometown. Like the novel, Franco’s film will be an ensemble affair, telling the story from twelve different perspectives, and this week, we learned that the cast will include Danny McBride, Tim Blake Nelson, Logan Marshall Green, Ahna O’Reilly, Jim Parrack, and James Franco, himself. Filming is scheduled to start in Mississippi in October. Next up on the James Franco Express is an action movie called Homefront, which will be directed by Gary Fleder (Runaway Jury, Don’t Say a Word) from a script by Sylvester Stallone. Jason Statham will play an ex-DEA agent who moves to a small town hoping to find some peace and quiet, but instead he gets into trouble with the local meth kingpin named Gator and his biker chick girlfriend, played by James Franco and Winona Ryder, respectively. Finally, there is Third Person, from writer/director Paul Haggis (Crash, In the Valley of Elah), which tells the story of three different love stories in three different cities (New York, Paris, and Rome). Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde were already cast in Third Person, but this week, Mila Kunis also signed on, and James Franco and Casey Affleck are also in talks for roles. There’s no word yet as to whether Franco might also take roles in Candy Store, Bloodstrike, Thor: The Dark World, Without Remorse, Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall, Maleficent, or the remakes of The Rocketeer and Videodrome.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 ANGELINA JOLIE’S CLEOPATRA LOSES A DIRECTOR, AND MALEFICENT GAINS A DAUGHTER (SORT OF)
This week saw Angelina Jolie’s name mentioned in two very different stories, although the characters at the heart of both films arguably have some things in common. First up (and the reason this story is a “Rotten Idea”) is the news that director David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club) has dropped out of Sony Pictures’ planned Cleopatra biopic, based on the book by Stacy Schiff. The “only so-so” box office results of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are reportedly being at least partly blamed for the cooling off between David Fincher and Sony Pictures. It’s worth noting, however, that Fincher is hardly to blame for that film not setting the world on fire. The fact that its release came so recently after the (quite excellent) Swedish film starring Noomi Rapace has to bear some brunt of the responsibility (especially globally). Sony Pictures hasn’t given up on the Cleopatra biopic, however, and is considering other directors, including Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), whose The Life of Pi has a really fantastic trailer in theaters right now. In other news, a young four-year-old actress named Vivienne Jolie-Pitt has been cast as the young Princess Aurora in the Disney 3D film Maleficent, which is a live action adaptation of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Elle Fanning plays the older Princess Aurora, and Jolie-Pitt’s mom (not at all coincidentally) plays the title character. Maleficent is currently in production and scheduled for release on March 14, 2014.
#2 DISNEY MAY RELAUNCH THE ROCKETEER
The 1991 live action adaptation of the graphic novel The Rocketeer is arguably the rare film that is both a throwback to an earlier time, distinctly of its own time, and also ahead of its time. The reasons The Rocketeer pulled off those distinctions is that it was a “retro action film” set in the 1930s (ala Raiders of the Lost Ark), but as a superhero movie, it arguably was made a decade too soon. Well, there’s now new management at Walt Disney Pictures, and reportedly the studio is looking to revive and remake The Rocketeer. As of yet, there are no creative people attached to the project, but Disney is starting to take meetings with writers. And now, some more back story: The Rocketeer got its start in the 1980s in independent comic books, created by the late Dave Stevens. The premise of The Rocketeer was intended as an homage to old serial heroes (Flash Gordon, King of the Rocket Men, etc), and it’s pretty simple: a pilot in 1930s Los Angeles finds a jet pack designed by Howard Hughes, and uses it to fly around and fight bad guys, save the girl, etc. The 1991 movie was directed by Joe Johnston, who would go on to direct another nostalgic superhero movie, Captain America: The First Avenger. The film was perceived as a box office flop at the time, but it retains a “Fresh” Tomatometer score (61%), and has, over the last 20 years, developed a loyal fanbase. The idea of remaking The Rocketeer still, however, seems like something of a cash grab, and that’s why it’s one of the week’s Rotten Ideas.
#1 THE VIDEODROME REMAKE SUGGESTS THAT SOMEONE AT UNIVERSAL DIDN’T ACTUALLY SEE VIDEODROME
Back in 2009, the Weekly Ketchup covered news of Universal starting development on a remake of David Cronenberg’s graphic and freaky Videodrome. For a while, it had seemed like Universal had wised up and long since ditched those plans, but this week proved that not to be the case. Universal Pictures is now in talks with commercials director Adam Berg for him to make his feature debut on a remake of Videodrome. This Videodrome remake was written by Ehren Kruger, writer of such films as Scream 3 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, who is also producing the remake. James Woods starred in the original Videodrome as the head of a sleazy cable channel always on the lookout for sexy and violent material, whose interest in a satellite feed of torture called Videodrome leads him into an experience where reality and fantasy cross. If you’ve ever seen images of James Woods holding a “flesh gun”, or with a huge gaping hole in his abdomen, that was Videodrome. Now, Universal wants to take what was an essentially small story of a man going insane and “blow it up into a large-scale sci-fi action thriller” and “infuse it with the possibilities of nano-technology.” It was a crazy idea in 2009 (when this writer wrote much of the previous text, by the way), and it’s still one today, and that’s why it’s the week’s Most Rotten Idea.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.