This week’s Ketchup includes news stories including several new remakes (The Cat in the Hat, Leprechaun and Garbage Pail Kids), new movies for directors Martin Scorsese and Errol Morris, and adaptations of books by Terry Brooks and Stephen King.
This Week’s Top Story
THE LORAX HELPS BRING BACK THE CAT IN THE HAT
If when you saw The Lorax, you got the thought that it would have been nice if The Cat in the Hat or How the Grinch Stole Christmas had been CGI instead of live action… you weren’t the only one. And some of those people were apparently at Universal Studios and Illumination Entertainment (the CGI studio behind Despicable Me), because they are now developing a CGI animated version of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. Audrey Geisel, the widow of the late Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, is also executive producing. The task of adapting the 61 page and 1,629 word Dr. Seuss book into a full live action movie has been assigned to screenwriter Rob Lieber, who doesn’t have a produced credit yet, but has previously adapted the children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day for 20th Century Fox. The Cat in the Hat has already been a movie once before, back in 2003, when Mike Myers ill-advisedly slapped on a bunch of white make up and… well, let’s just not get into all that. Illumination Entertainment is also developing a Dr. Seuss animated/live-action hybrid biopic, with Johnny Depp already attached to star.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 THE DINOSAURS OF JURASSIC PARK WILL RETURN NEXT YEAR… IN YOUR FACE!
For older moviegoers who can remember the days before CGI effects really took over practical effects, the release of the dinosaur action movie Jurassic Park might not seem that long ago. But, indeed, next June 11th will be the movie’s 20th anniversary. Universal Pictures has announced plans to rerelease Jurassic Park next summer to celebrate the anniversary as Jurassic Park 3D, starting on July 19, 2013. This 3D conversion will come to us while Universal Pictures and Steven Spielberg continue to consider plans for a fourth Jurassic Park movie.
#2 LEO AND MARTY TO MAKE THE WOLF OF WALL STREET THEIR FIFTH MOVIE TOGETHER
Although there was some suggestion in 2011 that Martin Scorsese may have given up on the project, this week, we learned that Scorsese will start filming his adaptation of The Wolf of Wall Street this August, 2012. The Wolf of Wall Street will be an adaptation of the memoir by Jordan Belfort about “his days as a hard partying, drug addicted stockbroker who was indicted in 1998 for security fraud and money laundering.” Leonardo DiCaprio will star as Jordan Belfort, in what will be his fifth film working with Martin Scorsese, after Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island. The Wolf of Wall Street script was adapted by Terrence Winter, creator of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire (which Scorsese also worked on), and screenwriter of Brooklyn Rules and the 50 Cent movie Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
#3 DONALD RUMSFELD DOCUMENTARY WILL COVER BOTH THE KNOWN AND UNKNOWN
There are only a relative few documentary filmmakers that most moviegoers could name, and most of them (Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock, Nick Broomfield) are known because at least partly they insert themselves into their film. On the other hand, there is the approach of Errol Morris, who has also appeared in some of his movies, but for the most part keeps his presence more subtle (which adds significance when Morris does show up). Morris’ documentary features over the last 35 years have included studies of Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time), an execution device inventor (Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr) and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (The Fog of War), mostly discussing his role in the Vietnam War. The subject of Errol Morris’ next documentary was revealed this week to be one of McNamara’s successors: Donald Rumsfeld, who likewise, was a central figure in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Morris isn’t discussing the documentary, but reportedly, Donald Rumsfeld sat down for a series of interviews in February, 2012 for this currently untitled documentary (which could borrow the title from Rumsfeld’s memoir, Known and Unknown).
#4 HOCUS POCUS, HAREM SCAREM, HERE COMES MANDRAKE THE MAGICIAN
Well, okay, there’s not really a good “magic spell” rhyme that goes with “magician.” Anyway, considering what happened last weekend with John Carter, one might think that there would be a cooling trend in Hollywood towards decades-old material that hasn’t ever received wide and mainstream recognition… in the last few decades or so, at least. Regardless, Warner Bros has picked up the rights to the classic comic strip Mandrake the Magician. Starting in 1934, Mandrake the Magician was a daily comic strip about the globetrotting adventures of a stage magician who used his abilities as an illusionist and hypnotist to battle a wide variety of foes, with his African strongman friend Lothar at his side. Mandrake the Magician has never been the subject of a theatrical feature film, but he has been adapted as both a 1939 serial and a 1970s TV movie. Mandrake the Magician was the second most famous creation of Lee Falk, who also created The Phantom, and had a second career as a theatrical director, working with such Hollywood heavyweights as Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint and Shelley Winters. Mandrake the Magician lands at Warner Bros after over a decade of development elsewhere, including periods when both Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Hayden Christensen were attached to star.
Warner Bros reportedly wants to start over from scratch with new writers, with an eye towards reviving Mandrake the Magician the same way that the studio did with Sherlock Holmes.
#5 JEREMY IRONS, VIOLA DAVIS, EMMY ROSSUM AND EMMA THOMPSON TO BE AMONG BEAUTIFUL CREATURES
There are far more movie news stories in the typical week than the ten items in the Weekly Ketchup, so sometimes movies trickle under the radar of the column. One such movie that is finally accumulating an impressive cast worthy of mention is the American South-set supernatural love story Beautiful Creatures, based on the first in a series by coauthors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The latest cast member is Jeremy Irons (The Lion King, Die Hard with a Vengeance), and he joins the already cast Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt), Emmy Rossum (Phantom of the Opera, The Day After Tomorrow) and Emma Thompson (Nanny McPhee; she was also Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter movies). They all have supporting roles, with the lead star-crossed lover roles going to relative newcomers Jack O’Connell and Alice Englert. The Beautiful Creatures script was adapted by Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King; cowriter of Beloved, The Horse Whisperer), who is also directing (he previously directed P.S. I Love You, Freedom Writers and Living Out Loud). Filming is scheduled to start in April, 2012 in the New Orleans area.
#6 STEPHEN KING’S THE DARK TOWER MAY YET STILL BE BUILT
One of the big movie news trends of 2011 was a new reluctance among studio execs to greenlight expensive genre movies, with many recent movies suggesting they were right to feel that way (see: Cowboys & Aliens, John Carter, Green Lantern, etc). Among those high profile shelvings was Universal Pictures’ decision to scrap plans for three movies and two TV series adapting Stephen King’s multi-novel epic The Dark Tower. When that deal fell apart, Ron Howard and Imagine Entertainment retained the rights to shop the project around to other studios. This week, they found a new home for The Dark Tower as Warner Bros has bought the script by Akiva Goldsman (The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind, Batman & Robin). Deals are not in place yet, but there are hopes that Ron Howard and Javier Bardem will both be able to follow the project to Warner Bros, as director and star, respectively. Bardem has long been the top choice to play Roland Deschain, the last living member of an order of gunslingers in a magical fantasy land that resembles the Old Wild West. There’s also the possibility that the new plans could still include the TV shows, possibly on WB’s corporate cousin HBO. If all goes smoothly in negotiations, Ron Howard could start filming the first installment as soon as early 2013.
#7 STEVE CARELL IS IN THE MARKET FOR MAGIC KINGDOM FOR SALE — SOLD!
This might be another case of this writer dating himself, but back in 1986, one of the biggest stories in the fantasy literature genre was the publication of Terry Brooks’ Magic Kingdom for Sale — SOLD!, which was a departure after his initial Shannara trilogy. Brooks eventually returned to Shannara to write another 20 or so books, but he also followed up Magic Kingdom for Sale — SOLD! with five more sequels set in the world of Landover. Last Friday, after the Weekly Ketchup was submitted to Rotten Tomatoes (the late placement might also explain why few other sites picked up on this story), it was revealed at Hollywood.com that Steve Carell is now attached to star in an adaptation of Magic Kingdom for Sale — SOLD! Carell will play a widowed lawyer who responds to an advertisement for a magical kingdom for sale, which leads to his landing in the world of Landover, which he must protect from the impending threats of an evil demon. Akiva Goldsman is producing, and the project is currently seeking a new director after the departure of Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra). The script was adapted by TV writer Craig Wright, who wrote two season 2 episodes of LOST and was also the creator of the ABC series Dirty Sexy Money.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 JUST IN TIME FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY… LEPRECHAUN TO GET A REBOOT
Now that it’s 2012, we’re sort of past the time when it seemed like nearly every new week brought word of an old horror franchise getting a reboot. One that hadn’t happened yet was Leprechaun, the cheaply made series about an evil little magical creature with a deadly obsession with his pot of gold. That may be because most of the big horror franchises started in the 1970s and 1980s, and Leprechaun didn’t come out until 1993 (there seems to be an unwritten rule in Hollywood that most announced remakes are of movies over 15 years old… except for when that rule gets broken). Anyway, Lionsgate is the studio with the rights to Leprechaun, and (for some reason) they’re teaming up with WWE Studios, AKA the movie-making subsidiary of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. One has to wonder if perhaps this means that WWE has an eye towards casting one of their wrestlers and/or wrestlers-turned-actors in Leprechaun. Not much else is known about the remake except that it will modernize the concept, but really… isn’t that what all remakes do? Anyway, being so-bad-they’re-good doesn’t actually count as being “good,” and so that’s why the idea of a Leprechaun remake is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas.
#1 MICHAEL EISNER GOES FROM THE MOUSE HOUSE TO THE TRASH (AND DISCOUNT) BINS WITH GARBAGE PAIL KIDS
Few studio chiefs in the modern era have ever had the high public profile of Michael Eisner, who ran Disney from 1984 to 2005, which included the period in which he was the weekly host of The Magical World of Disney on ABC. Since his departure from Disney in 2005, Eisner has focused his energies on Torrante, an investment firm most notable for owning Topps, a prominent publisher of collectible sports cards. And that leads us to the week’s Most Rotten Idea, as Topps and Torrante also therefore own the rights to Garbage Pail Kids, which, starting in 1985, was a card series that spoofed the then-popular Cabbage Patch Kids doll line, with each card featuring a twisted pun character with art. The Garbage Pail Kids cards were sometimes cute and/or funny (and they were also, somewhat bizarrely, co-invented by Maus comic book writer Art Spiegelman). The problem with Michael Eisner now developing a new Garbage Pail Kids movie is that the world already had a Garbage Pail Kids movie back in 1987, and it remains to this day one of the relatively few widely released movies in the last 25 years that has an absolute 0% on the RT Tomatometer. Anyway, a YouTube poster who calls himself just “PES” has been hired by Michael Eisner to make his feature film debut with Garbage Pail Kids, working from a script by newcomer Michael Vukadinovich.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.