This week’s Ketchup includes news about sequels for Blade Runner and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, biopics about CBGB and Apple Computers, and new roles for Cate Blanchett, Taylor Lautner, Liam Neeson, and Channing Tatum.
This Week’s Top Story
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES SEQUEL GETS AN ARGUABLY APPROPRIATE SCREENWRITER
Enough time has passed that we can probably discuss some of the third act events of last summer’s surprise hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes. If you’re not ready to do that, stop reading now. Anyway, given what the final minutes of that film entailed, 20th Century Fox’s choice for the sequel’s screenwriter might seem either completely appropriate and awesome, or maybe a bit too predictable. One could argue that it’s a bit like hiring George Lucas to write the next Star Trek. Anyway, the writer in question is one Scott Z. Burns, who is coming off a Matt Damon trilogy that included The Bourne Ultimatum, The Informant! and ended last year with Contagion. And that last film is where we find the thematic cohesion at work in his new assignment. Burns was hired only after Fox first hired two of the first film’s writers to turn in a draft. And yes, director Rupert Wyatt is already locked down to return.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 MORE DETAILS EMERGE ABOUT BLADE RUNNER 2
Last year, it was announced that director Ridley Scott had signed to return to his 1982 neo noir/science fiction thriller Blade Runner in a new film. Blade Runner was of course a film about genetically engineered robots called Replicants in the Los Angeles of 2019, and featured Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos, and Sean Young. This week, we learned a few more details about what exactly this new film will be, starting with who has been hired to work on the script. Alcon Entertainment has hired screenwriter Hampton Fancher, who cowrote the original Blade Runner, to start work on this new film, which was confirmed as being a sequel set a few years after Blade Runner. Not many other details are yet known about the premise of the sequel, except that the protagonist will be female, much like in other Ridley Scott science fiction films like Alien and the upcoming Prometheus. Harrison Ford has also been confirmed as not returning for the sequel (which would have been especially untimely considering a lot more time has passed for the real Harrison Ford since 1982).
#2 AARON SORKIN CONFIRMED TO WRITE STEVE JOBS (THE ONE WITHOUT ASHTON KUTCHER)
As photos of Ashton Kutcher, dressed as Steve Jobs on set of the independent biopic Jobs, appeared online this week, Sony Pictures made sure that their own adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs wasn’t forgotten. The first big news about the project was the confirmation that Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter of The Social Network, has indeed been hired to work on the screenplay adaptation. Steve Jobs’ partner in founding Apple Computers, Steve Wozniak, was also hired this week to serve as a technical advisor on the film, which will most likely involve the realities of the computer business in the 1970s and 1980s (Wozniak left Apple in 1987). As for what exactly Sorkin’s script will be about, the writer is currently unsure of that himself, saying that it won’t be the typical cradle-to-grave biopic, but more like The Social Network.
#3 CATE BLANCHETT AND MIA WASIKOWSKA TO PLAY LOVERS IN CAROL
This year’s Cannes Film Festival is in full swing, along with all of the film announcements that the event brings. One such revelation involved an independent drama called Carol, which will be an adaptation of the 1952 novella The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (author of The Talented Mr. Ripley). Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are Alright) and Cate Blanchett will star in Carol as “two very different women in 1950s New York, a 20-year-old girl working at a department store and a rich wife trapped in a bad marriage trying to break free.” And right about now is when this article should mention that The Price of Salt, written under a pseudonym at the time, was an early entry in the growing lesbian pulp romance genre. Carol will be directed by John Crowley (Boy A, Intermission) from a script by Phylis Nagly, writer/director of the 2005 HBO movie Mrs. Harris. Filming is expected to start in London and New York in February, 2013.
#4 LIAM NEESON TO TAKE A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES
Liam Neeson may be in theaters this weekend playing board game blow’em’up with CGI aliens, but he’s also finding time to make movies not based on children’s toys. This week, Liam Neeson was announced as having been cast in A Walk Among the Tombstones, an adaptation of a crime novel by Lawrence Block to be directed by Scott Frank (The Lookout) from a script he adapted himself. Scott Frank’s varied career as a screenwriter includes Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Dead Again, and cowriting credits on Marley & Me and Minority Report. Neeson will be playing a former NYPD cop turned private detective who “is hired to find the kidnapped wife of a drug dealer. He operates just outside the law where the police don?t go to track down the kidnappers, who he discovers have been involved in multiple kidnappings and brutal murders.”
#5 THE SUSPIRIA REMAKE CASTS UP
The next film from director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Your Highness) will be a remake of the 1977 Dario Argento horror/thriller film Suspiria. While Green’s more recent films have been outrageous comedies, it doesn’t appear that his take on this story — about an American ballet student attending a European academy that is actually home to a coven of witches — will be a nudity- and drug joke-filled romp. In addition to the fact that Green’s earlier films include Undertow and All the Real Girls, the cast of the Suspiria remake provides the biggest clues. The American student will be played by Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan, The Hunger Games), with other roles going to Isabelle Huppert (8 Women, The Piano Teacher), Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs), Michael Nyqvist (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Antje Traue (from the upcoming Superman movie, Man of Steel). It would be surprising to see this particularly serious bunch of actors in a movie more like Your Highness.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 DISNEY RETURNING TO NEVERLAND WITH PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS
As Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman demonstrate, Hollywood is in such hot pursuit of movies based on children’s stories that it doesn’t mind developing multiple films based on the same basic concept. One of the characters getting multiple film projects is J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, and Walt Disney Pictures added another one to the list this week. The studio has acquired the film rights to the children’s book Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, which serves to give Peter Pan a back story, and also sets up material for possible sequels. Peter and the Starcatchers is also currently playing on Broadway as a play adaptation, and was recently nominated for nine Tony Awards. Disney hired screenwriter Jesse Wigutow (2003’s It Runs in the Family) to adapt the script, and with not much else to go on, that film’s “Rotten” 28% RT Tomatometer lands Peter and the Starcatchers in the Rotten Ideas this week.
#3 ALAN RICKMAN ENJOYS COUNTRY, BLUEGRASS, BLUES, AND OTHER MUSIC FROM THE UNDERGROUND
Director Randall Miller (Houseguest, Bottle Shock) had, until recently, been planning on starting filming soon on the Beach Boys biopic The Drummer, but it recently had to get postponed. And so, Miller is quickly moving things around to start filming of a completely different music-related biopic instead. Alan Rickman, AKA Hans Gruber and/or Professor Snape, has signed on to portray New York rock club owner Hilly Kristal in CBGB, a film about the famous nightclub that helped dozens of famous rock bands get their starts. Filming is expected to start in New York City as soon as next month, June, 2012. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas not because of Alan Rickman’s involvement, but due to all of the little green “Rotten” splotches on Randall Miller’s RT Tomatometer page. And in other Alan Rickman news, he’s also currently rumored to be in the running to play Ronald Reagan in The Butler, the planned movie that sort of does for the White House what The Help did for Southern whites’ houses.
#2 CHANNING TATUM TO PROTECT THE PRESIDENT IN WHITE HOUSE DOWN
Channing Tatum won a lot of new fans and good will for his performance this year in 21 Jump Street. This week, his agents attempted to monetize that a bit more by starting negotations with Sony Pictures for the lead role as a Secret Service agent in White House Down. The movie made news a while back when the studio paid an unusually high $3 million for a spec script that is described as being “Die Hard in the White House.” Of course, it didn’t hurt that the spec script was written by James Vanderbilt, who also cowrote the studio’s upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man. None of that, however, is really why White House Down is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas. Nope, that still has more to do with the fact that the movie will be directed by Roland Emmerich, whose only two bright spots on the RT Tomatometer are Independence Day and The Patriot (though those two films might also be the ones that White House Down has the most in common with, thematically). There’s no word yet as to whether Bill Pullman might be recruited to reprise his role as the POTUS.
#1 TAYLOR LAUTNER + PARKOUR = TRACERS
People may not have turned up in many numbers to see Abduction, but Taylor Lautner (Cheaper by the Dozen 2) still has pretty decent representation. Lautner has signed a deal with the producers of the Twilight Saga movies to star in Tracers, about a New York City bike messenger in debt to mobsters who learns to enjoy “the thrill of the world of parkour” to pay them back and impress “a sexy stranger, Nikki.” Lautner really should listen to Prince more, who would warn him about sexy strangers named Nikki. Anyway, Tracers will be directed by Daniel Benmayor, director of the 2009 action/thriller Paintball. Perhaps Paintball and this movie about parkour are forming some sort of action trilogy about short lived pop culture trends of the early 21st century? I’m scratching for rays of light here, folks, rays of light.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.