Weekly Ketchup

Weekly Ketchup: Sam Raimi Enters the World of Warcraft

Plus a free Avatar sneak peek and lots of news on DC Comics films, Saw films, and blockbuster sequels

by | July 24, 2009 | Comments

This is the week of Comic-Con International 2009 in San Diego, and so the world of movie news, and in particular, big fan-friendly projects, is quite active. Weekly Ketchup writer Greg Dean Schmitz unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to visit the mega convention this year, but he was still able to combine some of its biggest and juiciest news items with others that actually happened in Hollywood, a hop, skip, and a jump away from San Diego. Since this column has been written midway through the convention, it’s possible some hot items might get missed this week, but as of publication, here’s how the week stands.


Director Sam Raimi (the Spider-Man and Evil Dead franchises) has signed on with Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures (The Dark Knight, 300, Watchmen) to be the man who brings Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft video game fantasy franchise to the big screen. Sam Raimi will be overseeing the development of the movie over the next several months with expectations that he will move on to film Warcraft after he wraps Spider-Man 4 next year for Columbia Pictures. Warcraft got its start as a series of real-time strategy games for the PC, before being adapted as the immensely popular World of Warcraft MMORPG (which, it’s worth noting, is not the title of this movie). Warcraft is set in the fantasy world of Azeroth, in which two powerful factions, the Alliance and the Horde, are pitted against each other, sometimes in all out war (the RTS games) and more recently in a sort of cold war stalemate (World of Warcraft). What exactly the story will be about is unknown, especially since, with Raimi’s involvement, it appears that the previous scripts might be thrown out as screenwriter Gary Whitta is now off the project. All of the Warcraft games are very dependent upon story, and have created a dense lore and mythology which offers enough material for several epic movies.


Apparently as a sort of a lead up article to Comic-Con, The Hollywood Reporter this week published a summary of DC Comics’ various comic book adaptation plans, with an emphasis on the company’s renewed focus on increasing their efforts. The next three movies will be Jonah Hex, The Losers and of course, Green Lantern. Other projects that DC and Warner Bros are actively developing at the moment include The Flash, Aquaman, Green Arrow (as well as Super Max, in which Green Arrow is also the central hero), Shazam, a Constantine sequel, a movie about space adventurer Adam Strange, and perhaps most surprisingly, a movie about one of Superman’s most famous villains, Bizarro, which the trade refers to as Bizarro Superman. These movies, based on what some might call DC’s “second string” heroes, seem able to get produced with less drama than the three characters that are noticeably absent from the list: Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, all three of which the studio still has interest in adapting but admits are each perhaps years from happening.


This week’s Comic-Con has brought talk of several big movies that might start filming soon (mostly next year). First up, however, separate from Comic-Con, was director Steven Sommers’ revelation in Australia that G.I. Joe 2 is expected to start filming next summer, with apparently both Sommers and the full cast already signed on. Next up is the fourth Pirates of the Carribean movie from Disney, which an executive revealed they expect to start filming in April or May of 2010. The early word is that the movie will indeed still feature Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, but that some of the other actors (namely Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley) may not continue on in what is being described as the start of a second trilogy for the franchise. In other Johnny Depp news, also at Comic-Con, Tim Burton revealed that, of the many projects to which he is attached, his next film after Alice in Wonderland will be his adaptation of the horror soap opera Dark Shadows, which will star Depp as the vampire Barnabas Collins. Finally, in the take-this-one-with-a-grain-of-salt category, Gary Oldman revealed at the Book of Eli conference that he is signed to start filming the third Batman movie next year, despite reports that seem to suggest that WB’s plans for the movie might not be done by that time.


Yesterday at Comic-Con, after screening 20+ minutes of his upcoming CGI-heavy science fiction epic Avatar, James Cameron also announced that August 21, 2009 will be Avatar Day, when 20th Century Fox will premiere a 15 minute preview on as many IMAX and IMAX 3D screens as they can. The icing on the cake is that this 15 minute preview will be free. The concept is that Cameron wants to give the general public the same sort of preview experience that the Comic-Con audience received. That day will also see the premiere of the first full Avatar trailer in general theaters. You can read about what Cameron revealed of Avatar over at IGN Movies.


Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Warner Bros are moving forward with plans to revive The Twilight Zone as a new feature film, to be written by Rand Ravich, writer/director of 1999’s The Astronaut’s Wife and creator of the NBC detective show Life. The Twilight Zone got its start, of course, as a classic science fiction anthology TV show in 1959, produced and hosted by Rod Serling, which was followed by two more TV series in 1985 and 2002. In 1983, four of Hollywood’s hottest directors (Steven Spielberg, John Landis, Joe Dante and George Miller) got together to make an anthology feature film (also a WB release), which is now perhaps most famous for a helicopter accident which caused the death of actor Vic Morrow. What DiCaprio’s Twilight Zone movie will be is not yet known, but the two most likely choices seem to be either another set of stories, or perhaps one single story adapting one of the many classic episodes from the original series. It’s not yet known if DiCaprio’s involvement as producer might also mean that he would star in the movie.


Sony Pictures is close to finalizing a $50 million deal to produce a theatrical Michael Jackson concert movie using the 80 hours of rehearsal footage shot in the days just before the pop star’s June 25th, 2009 death. Although several studios, including Paramount, Fox, and Universal negotiated for the rights to this concert movie, Sony was always perceived as having the inside advantage since most of Michael Jackson’s music is also published by Sony’s music division. Kenny Ortega (Newsies, the High School Musical franchise), who filmed the rehearsal footage, is expected to direct this movie version and is reportedly already at work on compiling the footage into something Sony could release by the end of 2009. Ortega has the time this year to work on this Michael Jackson project, as his next film, the remake of Footloose, doesn’t start filming until March of 2010. The feature is expected to include three new music videos, including an alternative version of “Thriller,” which were intended to play in 3D at the concerts, although it is unclear if 3D will be used in the theatrical release of the movie.


The family of legendary martial artist and actor Bruce Lee have announced plans to bring his life to film not as just one film, but as a trilogy of biopics. The first film, Bruce Lee, will start filming in China in October, on a budget of $7 million, with Tony Leung Ka-Fai already cast as Lee’s father, although a director and all other cast (including Lee) have yet to be hired. Bruce Lee is scheduled for release on November 27, 2010, which will be the 70th anniversary of Lee’s birth; that date, however, may not necessarily apply to the United States, since the movie does not yet have a distributor here. There have been a few Bruce Lee biopics already, including 1993’s Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, starring Jason Scott Lee (no relation). Acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou (who is currently filming the Chinese remake of Blood Simple) has also expressed interest in making a Bruce Lee biopic (perhaps the family will recruit him?).


Acclaimed Canadian director David Cronenberg (Scanners, Videodrome, Eastern Promises) has signed on to helm an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel, Cosmopolis. The premise of Cosmopolis sounds bizarre, and it promises potentially to be a return to the style of some of Cronenberg’s earlier films, albeit perhaps without some of the grosser elements. Cosmopolis is the story of a 28-year-old billionaire’s journey across Manhattan in his tech-heavy limousine as he attempts to get a new haircut, but spends the day in a series of entanglements, including traffic jams caused by a presidential visit, a funeral procession for a rap star, and a full scale riot. Meanwhile, the billionaire is also stalked by two men, has a series of chance encounters with his wife, and sees his fortune dwindling after he bet against the yen in the foreign markets. Cosmopolis, which has not yet been cast, will be a French-Canadian coproduction and will film in New York City and Toronto in 2010.


This week saw an unusual flurry of news items that all have ties to the Saw horror franchise. First up is Saw VII, which is gearing up for production even as Saw VI awaits its expected annual release this coming October. David Hackl, the production designer of II, III and IV, and the director of Saw V, will return to direct VII as well, from a script by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, the writers of IV, V and VI, the three Feast movies and next weekend’s The Collector. Plot details are unknown, but I’m guessing it will probably involve torture. Filming of Saw VII starts in January, 2010. Darren Lynn Bousman, who directed Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV and Repo! The Genetic Opera, has signed to write and direct a horror film called Abattoir, which will also be adapted as a graphic novel. Abattoir (French for “slaughterhouse”) is the story of a real estate agent who must clean up a mansion following a bloody massacre there; he encounters a strange old man who draws him into a dangerous “web of shadows, murders and massacres.” Finally, there is James Wan, who directed the first Saw and 2007’s Death Sentence. Wan has signed on to cowrite and direct the long-awaited adaptation of the Castlevania video game series, about a vampire hunter’s attempts to bring down Dracula and his undead hordes. That, in a nutshell, is a lot of Saw news for one week.


Producer Mike Fleiss (Hostel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, Poseidon) has set up a new production company called Next Films, and the first announced project is a new horror movie franchise called Black Sabbath. At first glance, one might suspect this to be a remake of the 1963 Italian horror film, but Black Sabbath will actually be a new concept inspired by the groundbreaking heavy metal band of the same name; the movie itself, however, will have no relation to the bad outside of its title. In addition to approving the use of the band’s name, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi is also scoring the movie. While Iommi currently owns the trademark of the Black Sabbath name, lead singer Ozzy Osbourne recently filed suit for 50% of the rights. Anyway, no other details are known about Black Sabbath, and apparently the project does not yet have a writer. So, what do you think a Black Sabbath horror movie should be about?


This week’s rotten idea does not go to a newly announced movie, this column’s specialty, but to a bit of casting news: Nicolas Cage is in talks to play the “gangster villain” in next summer’s comedic adaptation of The Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogan, with Cameron Diaz in talks to play his reporter romantic interest. Now, I should note that this particular “rotten idea” is not entirely about the movie, for which I hold out some promise since it’s being directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind). Nope, I’m particularly just concerned with the career of Nicolas Cage, who once showed a lot of promise, but in recent years has mostly shown an interest in making a series of bizarre acting choices in flawed movies like Ghost Rider and The Wicker Man. In other words, he’s one or two movies away from becoming John Travolta. The two movies Cage currently has in the can and heading towards release are Season of the Witch, where he plays a medieval knight, and Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, where he plays a wizard. Now, it’s possible that his Green Hornet villain role will be awesome, but I just have this sneaking suspicion that it won’t be. And since Nicolas Cage was once one of my favorite actors (back in the Leaving Las Vegas days), that makes this casting choice the Rotten Idea of the Week.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS through his MySpace page or via a RT forum message.

Tag Cloud

Video Games Year in Review Chernobyl Apple TV Plus zero dark thirty cats Mystery E3 MSNBC jamie lee curtis Rocketman 71st Emmy Awards Certified Fresh Trivia Crunchyroll Awards Amazon Studios Musical television based on movie Women's History Month PlayStation doctor who hollywood New York Comic Con A&E vampires disaster dramedy Shondaland Sony Pictures Travel Channel Columbia Pictures 2016 mockumentary Mary Tyler Moore streaming Teen Hallmark Brie Larson Biopics SXSW 2018 Summer cancelled Syfy zombie Rom-Com The Academy boxoffice Awards Tour The Walking Dead travel Extras video X-Men fast and furious Polls and Games dogs anime universal monsters tv talk comedies Heroines archives Podcast crime thriller biography comic police drama venice CBS romance Fox Searchlight Sundance TV australia Christmas Apple SundanceTV Elton John Music Drama movie Chilling Adventures of Sabrina superhero spanish language indiana jones finale joker dc OWN American Society of Cinematographers The Arrangement TCA Winter 2020 science fiction unscripted TCA 2017 independent composers Nat Geo sports Western Emmys TIFF DC streaming service historical drama technology Fox News directors HBO anthology laika Reality TCM 99% slashers SDCC sag awards History Ellie Kemper TCA Awards Martial Arts 2017 spinoff game of thrones Vudu The Witch Epix Ovation Musicals miniseries Tubi HBO Max Apple TV+ Television Academy Food Network DGA CNN Grammys CW Seed Bravo dceu Action Showtime Black Mirror Pop die hard Star Wars dragons Funimation BET Awards Film Festival WarnerMedia Winter TV Hallmark Christmas movies Freeform Discovery Channel TV renewals hist Disney streaming service serial killer revenge Walt Disney Pictures Quiz YouTube toronto period drama Pride Month DirecTV screen actors guild Emmy Nominations Kids & Family Pirates USA Network mutant Animation San Diego Comic-Con Spike The CW Oscars Superheroe Reality Competition Super Bowl documentary romantic comedy Baby Yoda Peacock versus OneApp Sundance Marathons Tomatazos batman Comedy Central sequels Winners GLAAD Binge Guide Acorn TV Amazon GoT Cannes latino Mary Poppins Returns cartoon social media Nominations child's play El Rey deadpool Disney Channel VH1 nfl Holidays Horror VOD Avengers DC Comics justice league obituary twilight dark TBS black Set visit Trailer See It Skip It First Look indie Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 45 japanese animated spy thriller Masterpiece MCU casting films game show TV festivals free movies Family President hispanic criterion halloween AMC name the review golden globes PaleyFest Fall TV Classic Film franchise spanish Countdown cults Endgame Tumblr FX ABC Family mission: impossible Rock ID PBS Comic Book docudrama asian-american Comics on TV HBO Go psycho comics what to watch stand-up comedy chucky a nightmare on elm street Black History Month Fantasy Hulu aliens james bond 72 Emmy Awards Paramount Network Song of Ice and Fire ESPN YouTube Red Lionsgate Infographic space reboot Sci-Fi Esquire cancelled TV series Holiday Amazon Prime stoner south america Interview Starz war Lifetime Alien Cartoon Network Arrowverse Mary poppins children's TV comic books elevated horror 24 frames zombies GIFs Lucasfilm parents worst movies crossover adaptation TLC medical drama CBS All Access rotten football Rocky National Geographic worst 2019 book christmas movies documentaries all-time Tarantino comiccon Warner Bros. 20th Century Fox Pet Sematary canceled LGBT FOX supernatural video on demand Star Trek spider-man Cosplay fresh Thanksgiving reviews adventure witnail Mudbound TCA theme song Premiere Dates werewolf Netflix TruTV DC Universe Ghostbusters IFC Films MTV ghosts 2015 Paramount Captain marvel series toy story Election politics Calendar ratings rotten movies we love stop motion best cars rt archives Adult Swim BBC Logo thriller blockbuster Opinion Schedule blaxploitation festival Anna Paquin Disney A24 cancelled television Disney Plus news NYCC award winner halloween tv Pixar LGBTQ 2020 Britbox Film satire binge scorecard crime The Purge Creative Arts Emmys movies psychological thriller Superheroes Sneak Peek concert Country critics BBC One Turner boxing Red Carpet strong female leads Writers Guild of America TNT Trophy Talk Turner Classic Movies First Reviews italian crime drama Comedy Netflix Christmas movies Best and Worst Valentine's Day 21st Century Fox Stephen King Watching Series BET Disney+ Disney Plus harry potter Spectrum Originals richard e. Grant cinemax Toys spain WGN RT History Character Guide sequel Marvel Television singing competition BAFTA diversity Photos Universal Lifetime Christmas movies renewed TV shows robots transformers VICE USA cops Hear Us Out nature FXX NBC Marvel YA political drama 4/20 Academy Awards true crime TV Land screenings Television Critics Association Shudder scary movies facebook BBC America ITV Dark Horse Comics Pop TV CMT quibi Box Office cooking 007 APB Spring TV Mindy Kaling remakes Nickelodeon talk show teaser canceled TV shows foreign FX on Hulu green book Sundance Now Crackle Marvel Studios sitcom cancelled TV shows ABC emmy awards natural history kids french discovery classics Amazon Prime Video YouTube Premium nbcuniversal breaking bad E! IFC RT21