This week’s Ketchup includes movie development news stories for the superhero movies Mystique, the sequels for James Bond and Star Wars, the TV show adaptations Kung Fu and Battlestar Galactica, and new roles for Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Keanu Reeves.
This Week’s Top Story
LIONSGATE ANNOUNCES FOURTH MOVIE IN DIVERGENT TRILOGY
When Warner Bros. first announced plans to expand the seven Harry Potter books into a total of eight movies, they started a new trend for YA franchise adaptations that Lionsgate has been repeating ever since (first with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and next with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2). This week, we learned that Lionsgate will be adding a fourth finale movie to the Veronica Roth books that hit the big screen last month with Divergent. The plan is one Divergent movie each March, starting with Insurgent (Mar. 20, 2015), followed by Allegiant Part 1 (Mar. 18, 2016), and concluding with Allegiant Part 2 (Mar. 24, 2017). Shailene Woodley will star in all four movies. Neil Burger, who dropped out of the franchise after directing Divergent, was replaced for Insurgent by Robert Schwentke, whose most recent film was last summer’s R.I.P.D.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 FROM 12 YEARS A SLAVE TO JAMES BOND #24 FOR CHIWETEL EJIOFOR?
Chiwetel Ejiofor may have lost the Best Actor race to Matthew McConaughey, but that doesn’t mean that the British actor isn’t reaping rewards for his work in the Best Picture 12 Years a Slave. Sources at MGM and Sony have told Variety that Chiwetel Ejiofor is the top choice to play the villain in the next installment (#24) of the James Bond film franchise — though nothing is official. Daniel Craig will be returning for his fourth film as James Bond, and he will be joined by returning cast members Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and Naomi Harris. The newest Bond film will be directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty), who also directed Skyfall, and the movie is already scheduled for release on Nov. 6, 2015.
#2 JENNIFER LAWRENCE MIGHT GET HER OWN SPINOFF FILM AS MYSTIQUE
Besides next month’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, we already know about the 1980s-set X-Men: Apocalypse (May 26, 2016), a third Wolverine solo movie (Mar. 3, 2017), plans for an X-Force movie, and possible solo movies for Deadpool and Gambit. This week, for the first time, there was confirmation from franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner that another popular X-character might also be getting her own solo spinoff movie: Mystique, the shape-shifting mutant as played by Jennifer Lawrence. Writer/producer Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class) confirmed interest, saying, “I love what Jen Lawrence has done with her, and I feel like because she is in such a crowded ensemble, there’s so much more opportunity if you were to follow her solo.” Rebecca Romijn played Mystique in the first three X-Men movies, which are set in a different period (and possibly a different timeline) than the two movies in which Jennifer Lawrence has appeared as Mystique so far.
#3 TINA FEY AND AMY POEHLER REUNITE AS SISTERS IN THE NEST
Saturday Night Live alumns Tina Fey and Amy Poehler work together so regularly that they will eventually need sections of their Wikipedia pages devoted to the other. Some examples of their professional partnership include anchoring “Weekend Update” on SNL, starring opposite each other in the 2008 comedy Baby Mama, and co-hosting the last two editions of the Golden Globes. And now, we know that Amy Poehler is in final negotiations to join Tina Fey in the Universal Pictures comedy The Nest. They will play two adult sisters who spend one last weekend in their childhood home after their parents put the house up for sale. The Nest will be directed by Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) from a script by Paula Pell, a longtime member of the Saturday Night Live writing staff.
#4 PETER MAYHEW RETURNING AS CHEWBACCA IN STAR WARS EPISODE VII
Filming has already started on Star Wars Episode VII, but except for returning stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford — along with Girls‘ star Adam Driver as a villain — Disney has kept most of the cast a secret. This week, however, the studio confirmed a fourth returning cast member, and it’s Peter Mayhew, the 69-year-old (and 7-foot-tall) British actor known for playing Han Solo’s Wookiee friend Chewbacca. No other details have been revealed yet, but one good guess is that 30 years after Return of the Jedi, Chewbacca is possibly showing his age (cue the Star Wars fans who actually know his age). Anthony Daniels is also expected to return as C-3PO, but that hasn’t officially been confirmed yet. We also learned this week that Star Wars Episode VII will be filming for four weeks starting in May in Abu Dhabi, which is almost certainly going to be for scenes set on Tattooine, Luke Skywalker’s home planet. Walt Disney Pictures will release Star Wars Episode VII on Dec. 18, 2015.
#5 KEANU REEVES TO ASK “WHO’S THERE?” IN KNOCK KNOCK FOR DIRECTOR ELI ROTH
Horror director Eli Roth has mostly avoided working with big movie stars on movies like Cabin Fever, Hostel, and The Green Inferno, but that will be changing with his next film, a psychological thriller called Knock Knock. Keanu Reeves will play a happily married man whose life is turned upside down when two young women (Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) show up at his house while the family is away. Eli Roth starts filming Knock Knock in Santiago, Chile on Apr. 14th.
#6 CLASSIC 1980S SCIENCE FICTION COMIC BOOK DREADSTAR NOW IN DEVELOPMENT
He may not be as famous as some of Marvel’s other creators, but comic book writer and artist Jim Starlin had a remarkable run at Marvel in the 1970s, and you could argue that we wouldn’t be getting Guardians of the Galaxy without him. Jim Starlin gave the characters Captain Mar-Vell and Adam Warlock the “cosmic” revisions they’re famous for, and also co-created Shang-Chi, Guardians of the Galaxy members Drax the Destroyer and Gamora, and cosmic super villain Thanos (the purple guy at the end of The Avengers). As with most characters created for Marvel, all of it remains the company’s property. In the 1980s, however, Jim Starlin created his own long-running “space opera” title for Marvel-owned Epic Comics which was character-owned, and this week, that creation Dreadstar got its own movie deal. Production companies Benderspink (We’re the Millers, A History of Violence) and Illuminati Entertainment are teaming up for Dreadstar, which tells the story of the last survivor of the Milky Way galaxy, Vanth Dreadstar, who teams up with a motley band that includes a mystic, a telepath and a cat-man-alien. In related news this week, Nathan Fillion revealed he might have a small role in Guardians of the Galaxy, saying, “Maybe check the credits of the movie when you watch it.” That could either mean he appears in the movie’s credits scene, or that his role is so obscure, you would only know what it is by looking for his name.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 MATT DAMON MIGHT STAR IN GRAVITY-ESQUE SPACE SURVIVAL ADVENTURE THE MARTIAN
The downside to a movie being as successful as Gravity was last fall is that Hollywood then starts greenlighting similar movies, hoping that lightning can strike the same spot twice. That reasoning is why this story is one of the week’s “Rotten Ideas,” but only a borderline one, since the movie in question, The Martian, might end up being awesome on its own merits. Matt Damon is being eyed by 20th Century Fox as a potential star for The Martian, which is about a stranded survivor of a manned mission to Mars who is left behind on the planet and must figure out a way back to Earth. The Martian was formerly a project for director Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods), but Goddard has left The Martian to focus his time on developing The Sinister Six for Sony, which he is in talks to direct, possibly for release in 2017. (Drew Goddard has been working on The Sinister Six as writer and likely director since last fall.)
#2 THIS WEEK IN MOVIES BASED ON 1970S TV SHOWS: KUNG FU, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
It may have been a coincidence, but this week saw news for two different (previously announced) projects at Universal Pictures based on genre TV shows from the 1970s. The one that you probably saw the most about on your Facebook feed is the movie reboot of Battlestar Galactica, the NBC series that premiered in 1978 as an obvious reaction to the success of Star Wars. Director Bryan Singer was previously attached to the reboot, but it appears that he departed to focus his time and energy on his various X-Men projects at Fox. Universal has hired screenwriter Jack Paglen (Transcendence, Prometheus 2) to work on the screenplay following Singer’s departure. The other 1970s TV show adaptation at Universal to make the news this week is the Kung Fu movie, which Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge) is now in talks to direct. The addition of a director with such a strong visual flair is certainly interesting for a project that most people had probably forgotten even existed, but… then you remember what Baz Luhrmann’s RT Tomatometer page looks like these days. Both of these movies are “Rotten Ideas” because, really — why is Hollywood still adapting 1970s TV shows?
#1 GERARD BUTLER TO STAR IN METEOROLOGICAL DISASTER MOVIE GEOSTORM
In this last entry, we’re going to consider two movies that would seem to have absolutely nothing in common, except that they really do. Back in the 1990s, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin had a partnership that gave us the strange trio of Stargate, Independence Day, and Godzilla. Again, coincidentally, this week saw two different movies announced for each of them. Let’s start with Dean Devlin’s Geostorm. The Warner Bros. science fiction adventure has Gerard Butler attached to star as a “stubborn but charming satellite designer, who when the world’s climate-controlling satellites malfunction, has to work together with his estranged brother to save the world from a man-made storm of epic proportions. A trip into space follows, while on Earth a plot to assassinate the president begins to unfold.” Dean Devlin wrote and will direct Geostorm. Roland Emmerich’s news story this week doesn’t seem as ridiculous — at first — and then you remember that the director is Roland Emmerich, who seems outs of his depths with Stonewall, the story of the 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular bar for New York’s gay and transgender community. The incident, which went on to be known as the “Stonewall Riots,” is an important event in the history of gay rights. But for the guy who gave us 10,000 B.C. and the 1998 Godzilla? Noble, but still a “Rotten Idea.” Jeremy Irvine of War Horse is the first actor to sign on.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.