This week’s Ketchup may be covering the last seven days and the first day of April, but there are no April Fools Jokes here. Actually, what we will find are a surprising number of movie development news stories involving Academy Award winners like Amy Adams, Mel Gibson, Brad Pitt, and Meryl Streep.
This Week’s Top Story
DOCTOR DOOM CAST IN THE FANTASTIC FOUR REBOOT
This was arguably a slow news week, and the blame for that can probably be assigned to Tuesday being April 1st. Some movie news was likely held back — not just that day but the whole week — to avoid people thinking the stores were a joke. The day did, however, bring one big movie news story: 20th Century Fox announced that British actor Toby Kebbell (RocknRolla, The Conspirator) has been cast as Doctor Doom in The Fantastic Four. If negotiations go through, Kebbell will join the already announced titular quartet of Jamie Bell (The Thing), Michael B. Jordan (Human Torch), Kate Mara (Invisible Woman), and Miles Teller (Mister Fantastic). The Fantastic Four reboot joins Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (7/11/14) (also from Fox) and Warcraft (3/11/16) as one of three high profile franchise entries that Toby Kebbell has coming in the next two years. 20th Century Fox has scheduled The Fantastic Four for release on June 19, 2015. Kebbell’s casting wasn’t the only FF news this week, however, as “Nerdist” also reports that Doctor Doom will be aided in the reboot by Doombot robots, who Doom will control “telekinetically.” It’s not yet known why someone who can telekinetically control an army of robots would bother with the robots at all (why not just throw rocks and cars and stuff?). Meanwhile, in other 20th Century superhero movie news, the studio this week hired newcomer screenwriter Jack Stanley to work on their planned sequel to Chronicle, which also featured Michael B. Jordan (who will most likely not be returning for the sequel, for obvious reasons).
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 WILL FERRELL TO STAR IN THE RIGGS/KING TENNIS MOVIE MATCH MAKER
Will Ferrell has attached himself to star as Robert “Bobby” Riggs in Match Maker, a sports dramedy which will tell the true story of the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Riggs and female player Billie Jean King. The movie is being adapted from this article at ESPN.com, which includes rumored connections to the mafia (and the suggestion that Riggs threw the match to pay off gambling debts). It’s not yet known who will play Billie Jean King, or her husband at the time, Larry King (who was not, unfortunately, a radio talk show host). Will Ferrell has not yet won an Academy Award, which may seem like a non-sequitur, until you get to…
#2 ACADEMY AWARD WINNER HOLLY HUNTER JOINS THE CAST OF THE MAN OF STEEL SEQUEL
Casting news stories continue to trickle out for the Man of Steel sequel with Batman and Wonder Woman, and this week’s additions appear to have been grouped together to avoid three separate waves of speculation. Academy Award winner Holly Hunter, Australian actor Callan Mulvey (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and Japanese actress Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine) have all been cast in the sequel. The press release makes a point of making this sentence its very own stand alone paragraph: “All three actors will play characters newly created for the film.” The subtext is pretty clear: no, Holly Hunter’s not playing Hippolyta, or Catwoman, or Dr. Amanda Waller, or Harley Quinn, or the original Red Tornado. So, who do the commenters down below think will play Hippolyta, Catwoman, Dr. Amanda Waller, Harley Quinn, and the original Red Tornado?
#3 ACADEMY AWARD WINNER MERYL STREEP TO ROCK OUT WITH HER FROCK OUT IN RICKI AND THE FLASH
Meryl Streep has signed with TriStar Pictures to star in the musical dramedy Ricki and the Flash as “a guitar-wielding, hard rockin’ mamma by night and grocery store checkout lady by day.” Academy Award winner Jonathan Demme (Philadelphia, The Silence of the Lambs) will direct from a screenplay by Academy Award winner Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult). Sensing a pattern here? This is how studios stack the deck for a future “awards season.” Ricki and the Flash will mark Meryl Streep’s third movie in which she sings, following Mamma Mia! and the upcoming Into the Woods.
#4 ACADEMY AWARD WINNER BRAD PITT TO RETURN TO WORLD WAR II
(Admittedly, that title is a bit misleading because Pitt won his Oscar for producing 12 Years a Slave, not for acting in it.) Regardless, we’ve got a streak going with those titles. Much as Meryl Streep is lining up her third movie with singing, Brad Pitt is strongly considering a third movie set during World War II, the first two being Inglourious Basterds and the upcoming tank adventure Fury. We don’t really know much about this untitled project yet, except that it’s a “romantic thriller” written by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises), and filming might start in early 2015.
#5 ACADEMY AWARD WINNER HELEN MIRREN TO STAR IN NAZI ART THEFT DRAMA THE WOMAN IN GOLD
Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, and Daniel Bruhl are in various stages of negotiations and/or signings to star in The Woman in Gold. The movie is based on the true story of Maria Altmann, a Jewish holocaust survivor “who fought the Austrian government to get back several paintings by Gustav Klimt that were pilfered from her family during wartime.” Ryan Reynolds will play Altmann’s attorney, and Bruhl will play the attorney for the Austrian government. The Woman in Gold will be directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) for The Weinstein Company.
#6 ACADEMY AWARD WINNER MEL GIBSON HAS “TAKEN” THE LEAD IN BLOOD FATHER
The success a few years ago of Taken has done wonders for Liam Neeson’s bankability, but you know, it’s not like he’s the only actor of a certain age with an accent and the ability to communicate a simmering rage. Mel Gibson’s got all that, and the rage… Don’t even get us started on the rage. And so, Gibson is now in talks to star in Blood Father, “a Taken-style action thriller” about “an ex-con who reunites with his estranged wayward 16-year old daughter to protect her from drug dealers who are trying to kill her.” Blood Father is already scheduled to start filming in New Mexico next month under the direction of Jean-Francois Richet (Mesrine: Killer Insinct, Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One), whose Tomatometer has enough red tomatoes to earn this film a “Fresh Development” spot with or without Mel Gibson’s help.
#7 AMY ADAMS AND EMILY BLUNT UP FOR TWO DIFFERENT MOVIES FOR THE DIRECTOR OF PRISONERS
Last fall’s Prisoners sort of arrived and departed movie theaters without much ado. Indeed, this week, the film’s director Denis Villeneuve nearly got more press for two completely different movies than that movie itself received the week it came out. First up, there’s Story of Your Life, a science fiction drama about a language expert recruited to start communications with aliens after their space ships start landing all over the planet. Amy Adams is now in early talks to star as that aforementioned linguist. The movie that appears like it might happen first, however, is a thriller called Sicario (Spanish for “hitman”), which Emily Blunt (and breaking news: Benicio del Toro!) is in final talks to star in. Sicario is about a police officer from Arizona who travels to Mexico with two mercenaries to track down a drug lord. What’s unclear is which roles Emily Blunt (the cop, maybe?) and Benicio del Toro (any of those roles?) are going to be playing.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 ZAC EFRON TO BE FORCED TO PRACTICE LAW IN JOHN GRISHAM’S THE ASSOCIATE
Zac Efron, for whom Academy Award wins (or even nominations) continue to prove elusive, is now producing an adaptation of John Grisham’s The Associate, with Efron also attached to star. The 2009 book is about a recent Yale Law School graduate who is blackmailed into taking a job at the world’s largest law firm, where he is forced to spy on the behind-closed-door negotiations between two powerful defense contractors. You can check out Zac Efron’s verdant display of green splotches on his Tomatometer here.
#1 THE PINK PANTHER GETS A REBOOT, SANS CLOUSEAU
Yes, there is an animated character called The Pink Panther, and yes, he’s appeared on TV a few times over the years, but when you look up “pink panther” on Wikipedia, he’s not even what comes up. No, of course not, because The Pink Panther is a comedy classic, as were a few of its sequels, and the “Pink Panther” of the title was basically just a joke that didn’t have anything to do with the actual movies (except appearing in the credits). The true main character of the Pink Panther movies is, of course, Inspector Clouseau (most famously played by Peter Sellers, and most recently, by Steve Martin). So, of course, it would just be silly to imagine a movie called The Pink Panther without Inspector Clouseau. With that in mind, MGM has announced plans for a animation/live action hybrid comedy about The Pink Panther, with absolutely no French police detectives named Clouseau. Perhaps most oddly, the movie is still being described as a “caper.” This version of The Pink Panther will be directed by David Silverman (The Simpsons Movie, The Road to El Dorado).
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.