Weekly Ketchup

Weekly Ketchup: Sci-Fi at the Oscars, Raimi eyes The Shadow

Plus casting upcoming projects for Vin Diesel and Johnny Depp

by | February 5, 2010 | Comments

This week’s Ketchup includes sequel news for Enchanted and the Fast and the Furious franchise, as well as possible new projects for directors Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Terrence Malick and McG.



The biggest news in Hollywood this week didn’t involve newly announced movies, but was instead of course all about the Academy Award nominations. This was the year that the Academy expanded to ten nominations in the Best Picture category for the first time since 1943 (when Casablanca won). The up side is that good movies that might have otherwise seemed snubbed get a chance at the big prize, but the downside is that a movie like The Blind Side can now claim to be nominated for Best Picture. Rather than list all ten Best Picture nominations, I will instead list the top movies by the number of nominations: Avatar (9), The Hurt Locker (9), Inglourious Basterds (8), Precious (6), Up in the Air (6), Up (5), District 9 (4), Nine (4) and Star Trek (4). What stands out to me is that of those nine top nominated movies, three of them are science fiction, which is an impressive accomplishment for the genre. Avatar is obviously the “big movie” right now, but it’s also nice to see that smaller movies from excellent directors like The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds are sitting right alongside it as the most nominated films (or close to it). The only really obvious and disappointing oversight this year is that in the same year when District 9 is given so much love, the Academy completely snubbed Duncan Jones, Sam Rockwell and anyone else associated with Moon, which was one of the smartest and best realized science fiction movies of the last ten years. When you compare Moon with the genre movies that the Academy did recognize this year, what seems to be missing from Moon is big spectacle, action scenes and special effects; it’s as if that is what science fiction needs to have in order for the Academy to recognize it. Moon is the sort of movie that the Academy should have applauded, and so this year, as the science fiction genre takes a step forward, it hopefully isn’t taking two steps back.


Buried at the bottom of the positive IESB.net script review of Columbia Pictures’ planned reboot of The Shadow was the news that that Sam Raimi is considering making it his next directing project. The 1994 movie starring Alec Baldwin bombed at the box office, and Raimi came aboard the reboot as producer in 2006. This is bad news for fans of Blizzard’s Warcraft franchise, as many fans hoped that the Raimi’s departure from Spider-Man would mean the Warcraft adaptation would happen sooner. As for The Shadow, it is of course based upon the classic 1930s radio character (and later, pulp fiction and comic strips). The character was very popular in its time, and is commonly quoted as an inspiration for many comic book superhero characters that came later, including Batman. The draft of The Shadow that IESB reviewed was by Siavash Farahani, a new screenwriter who doesn’t yet have any produced films.


Since 2009’s Fast & Furious was the highest grossing film in the series, it’s no surprise that Universal has greenlit a fifth film that they are just calling Fast Five. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are set to return as their characters Dom and Brian, who are now fugitives on the run “being pursued by relentless lawmen.” There’s no word yet as to whether the chase will take them to Hazzard County. Justin Lin and Chris Morgan, respectively the director and screenwriter of Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious, will be back for this fifth film, as will franchise producer Neil Moritz. Universal is expecting to start production on Fast Five later this year and to release the film in 2011.


Walt Disney Pictures is moving forward with plans for a sequel to Enchanted, the live action 2007 fantasy musical that grossed $340 million worldwide. Screenwriter Jessie Nelson (cowriter of I Am Sam, Stepmom) has been hired to write the script, and director Anne Fletcher (The Proposal, 27 Dresses) will be taking over for Kevin Lima, whose post-Enchanted slate includes movies like an adaptation of the Candy Land board game and a remake of The Incredible Mr. Limpet. There’s no word yet about casting, but the original movie starred Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, Susan Sarandon and James Marsden. Disney is hoping Enchanted 2 might be ready in time for a 2011 release.


As Steven Spielberg lines up his next movie after his plans to remake Harvey fell apart, he has apparently already found a star for one of them; Zachary Quinto, known to genre fans as both Sylar from Heroes and the new Mr. Spock in Star Trek. The movie in question is a biopic of American “tin pan alley” composer George Gershwin, whose legacy (often with his brother Ira Gershwin) includes classics like Rhapsody in Blue, Summertime and An American in Paris. Gershwin’s amazing career was brought to an early end in 1937 when he died at the age of 38 of a brain tumor. DreamWorks acquired the rights to Gershwin’s life last fall, and the studio has reportedly already hired accent and dialogue coaches for Quinto, to help him get Gershwin’s New Yawk sound down. The screenplay for the untitled Gershwin biopic was written by Doug Wright (Quills), and if this is the project that Spielberg chooses to film next, production is likely to start early this summer ,while Quinto is on hiatus from Heroes.


The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Warner Bros is now eyeing Russell Crowe as their top choice to join Beyonce in the fourth film version of A Star is Born. Other possibilities had been Sean Penn and Robert Downey, Jr. Although the setting of the Star is Born movies varies between the film and music industries, what is always the same is the romance that develops between a young, emerging female artist (Beyonce is 28) and the older male artist (Crowe is 45) that steers her career, and falls in love with her. The first three versions of A Star is Born were released in 1937 (Janet Gaynor and Fredric March), 1954 (Judy Garland and James Mason) and 1976 (Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson). Warner Bros has been developing a fourth version of A Star is Born for over a decade, including versions that would have starred Will Smith or Jamie Foxx. Nick Cassavetes (Alpha Dog, The Notebook) will be directing from a script by Will Fetters (next month’s Remember Me, starring Robert Pattinson).


After reportedly basing his protrayal of Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean character, on Keith Richards (who then played Jack’s dad in the third movie), Johnny Depp is now committing to working with the Rolling Stones guitarist again. Depp will be directing a documentary about Richards that will start filming next week. The documentary is entitled Happy and is Depp’s first feature as director since his 1997 debut, The Brave, and his first documentary. In addition to new footage of Richards, Happy will include vintage material from the last (nearly) 50 years of the Rolling Stones’ performing and recording history. It’s not yet known if the other Stones will also participate in the movie.


Lee Zlotoff, the creator of the popular MacGyver TV series (1985-1992), is considering filing a lawsuit and an injunction that hopes to prevent the April 23, 2010 release of Rogue Pictures’ MacGruber. At the heart of the dispute is the fact that Zlotoff does indeed have a movie version of MacGyver also in development, and in fact, when MacGruber was announced as being greenlit, statements were made that the idea was to get MacGruber in theaters before the MacGyver movie. MacGyver is not, of course, the only TV show or movie to ever be parodied in movie form, with previous examples including Airport/Airplane!, Star Wars/Spaceballs, Scream/Scary Movie and James Bond/Austin Powers.


Director Terrence Malick has only released four movies in the 37 years of his career (Badlands in 1973, Days of Heaven in 1978, The Thin Red Line in 1998 and The New World in 2005). Ss his fifth film, The Tree of Life, starring Sean Penn and Brad Pitt awaits release in the fall of 2010, Malick is reportedly already casting his sixth film. There’s no title or plot details other than it being a “love story,” but Malick has cast Christian Bale, Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Rachel McAdams (The Notebook) and Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace), and also wrote the script. The next step for Malick is finding distribution and financing for the independent production.



Director Joseph McGinty Nichol, or as he prefers to be called, “McG” made his feature film debut with the ridiculously bombastic Charlie’s Angels, which was followed by the even more over-the-top Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. In the past, McG was in talks to direct Superman Returns and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo, and his fourth movie was Terminator: Salvation. So it’s safe to say that most people probably associate McG with “big” movies, but in the middle there, he also snuck in 2006’s We Are Marshall. Now, McG has signed on for another movie that is not the sort of big-budget effects dynamo that one might associate with him. 20th Century Fox’s This Means War is a romantic comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) about two best friends who fall in love with the same woman, forcing them to become enemies as they fight over her. The movie is based upon a script by Timothy Dowling (cowriter of Role Models), the latest screenwriter to tackle the project. This Means War has been in development since 1998, when Fox first picked it up, and along the way, it has had several possible directors (including Gore Verbinski of Pirates of the Caribbean) and stars (including Martin Lawrence). The reason this is this week’s Rotten Idea is that McG has shown us a lot of things, but comedic timing is not one of them. The two Charlie’s Angels movies were supposed to be comedies, after all, but although there were many impressive visual tricks and stunt scenes, I don’t think I laughed more than three times through both movies, and I’m not even really sure about “three.” If a romantic comedy’s intention isn’t to make us laugh, after all, they shouldn’t call it a comedy.

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.

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