Weekly Ketchup

Weekly Ketchup: The Mummy to Reboot Universal Monsters in 2016

Plus, Ron Howard tackles a Beatles biopic, and more details on prequels for The Shining and The Ring.

by | July 18, 2014 | Comments

This week’s Ketchup, which continues our annual lead up to San Diego Comic-Con, was filled with “franchise” news with lots of patterns. There were two different horror prequels (for The Ring and The Shining), multiple references to former partners Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, and new roles for Christian Bale, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Jason Sudeikis.

This Week’s Top Story


We’ve known for a while now that Universal Pictures was considering rebooting their “Universal Monsters” (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, etc.) in a style similar to what Marvel did with The Avengers. In other words, there was a plan to build a shared cinematic universe one monster movie at a time, eventually leading to movies featuring the monsters together. There’s a precedent for this in the golden age of Hollywood (House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein), and it’s also something that other studios are also replicating (the Amazing Spider-Man spinoffs and the upcoming DC Comics adaptations). We’ve also known for a while that the first movie was going to be a reboot of The Mummy, scheduled for April 22, 2016. What changed this week was an announcement of the two Universal-based writers/directors/producers who are spearheading the adaptations. Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) will be joined in this endeavor by screenwriter Chris Morgan, who worked on the three most recent Fast & Furious franchise entries. Kurtzman and Morgan are having regular meetings now about how to create a new movie universe that will also include the Bride of Frankenstein’s Monster, the Invisible Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon (and you can read more about Kurtzman’s thoughts on it here). Alex Kurtzman is also still developing the Amazing Spider-Man spinoffs Venom and The Sinister Six, but someone who isn’t is his former screenwriting partner Roberto Orci, who revealed this week that he has departed The Amazing Spider-Man 3.

Fresh Developments This Week


One of the long-in-development projects at 20th Century Fox for the last few years has an adaptation of the 1964 John D. MacDonald novel The Deep Blue Good-By, which launched a series of 21 novels about the “salvage consultant” Travis McGee, who specializes in helping people re-aquire valuables which are no longer in their possession. Leonardo DiCaprio was at one time attached to the project, and previous potential directors have included Oliver Stone and Paul Greengrass. This week, it was revealed that Christian Bale is in early talks to reunite with writer/director James Mangold (Walk the Line, The Wolverine), with whom he worked on the remake of 3:10 to Yuma. If Mangold can figure the character out, Travis McGee has a chance at becoming a future big screen favorite, as one can trace elements of the character in such later figures as Jim Rockford, Han Solo, and “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski. James Mangold is also currently working on the script for another Wolverine movie. As for Christian Bale, if The Deep Blue Good-By proves successful, he may have found a new franchise now that he’s done with Batman.


When the premise was first floated out into the online space, the idea of Overlook Hotel as a prequel to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was deemed by this column to be the most “Rotten Idea” of that week. And we still felt that way last year, too. Another year down the road, and I guess we’re warming up to the idea now. Director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo, Never Let Me Go), who has sort of taken over Terrence Malick’s status as a “one great movie per decade” director, is now the helmer to whom Warner Bros is talking about directing Overlook Hotel. We also learned with this story what sort of prequel Overlook Hotel will be, and it’s not the movie we expected (ie, one that tells the stories of some of the ghosts seen in The Shining). Instead, Overlook Hotel will tell the story of a “robber baron at the turn of the 20th century, [Bob T.] Watson scaled the remote peaks of the Colorado Rockies to build the grandest resort in America, and a place he and his family would also call home.” If he signs on, Romanek will be directing from a screenplay written by Glen Mazzarra, former showrunner of the hit TV series The Walking Dead. Mark Romanek is also attached to direct The Boston Strangler for Warner Bros, with Casey Affleck set to star.


Acclaimed anime director Hayao Miyazaki is retired now, but Studio Ghibli continues on. GKIDS is distributing the fantasy adaptation The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (starting October 17 2014), directed by Ghibli cofounder Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbors the Yamadas), who is directing his first film in 14 years. This week, we learned that the English voice cast will be led by Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role. Other voice actors will include Beau Bridges, James Caan, Dean Cain, Darren Criss, James Marsden, Oliver Platt, and Mary Steenburgen. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, based on a Japanese folktale, is about “a tiny girl found inside a shining stalk of bamboo. She grows into an exquisite young lady, raised by an old bamboo cutter and his wife. From the countryside to the grand capital city, even unseen she enthralls all who encounter her, including five noble suitors. Ultimately she must face her fate, punishment for her crime.”


There’s pressure, there’s beginner’s luck, and then there’s making your acting debut as the only live action actor in a major tentpole production. That’s exactly what has happened for 10 year old Neel Sethi of New York, who will make his acting debut in Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau. Neel Sethi landed the role of Mowgli as part of a worldwide audition process that saw thousands of young boys read for the role, from India to London to New York to New Zealand. As Mowgli, Sethi will be surrounded by jungle animals voiced by Idris Elba, Sir Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, and Lupita Nyong’o, when the movie is released on October 19, 2015.


As the old joke goes, if you saw the Beatles play live but couldn’t hear them, neither did the band, so loud were the fans. Now, a new documentary is being put together that might be aiming to replicate what that experience was like (since none of us have a time machine… yet). It doesn’t have a title yet, but Apple Corps and Imagine Entertainment are teaming up to produce a documentary about the “touring years” for the Beatles, which stretched from 1963 until 1966, when the band finally gave up to focus on studio recordings. This Beatles project will be directed by Ron Howard, who made his documentary debut last year with the Jay-Z concert film Made in America. Ron Howard’s next two narrative features will be In the Heart of the Sea and the Dan Brown adaptation Inferno.


When one has a job like the Weekly Ketchup, a certain amount of “spoilers” are to be expected. What’s super rare is a situation where this writer just goes “la la la la la,” all-fingers-in-ears, and closes the page before I see more about a given film than I want to know. Exactly that happened this week with Guardians of the Galaxy, which is only two weeks from opening. To keep the secret from being revealed or ruined for them, I’m not even telling the Rotten Tomatoes staff what this particular story is about. If you’re ready to be spoiled, here you go, but we would just ask to avoid getting into details in the comments. Having said that, let’s just say, “wow,” as this particular character comes as quite a surprise, and it opens up new possibilities for future Marvel films that we didn’t even know the studio was considering. The character in question seemed as likely to be in a movie as, say, Stan Lee doing a cameo appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Not that it will ever, ever happen either, but Stan Lee is still joking about it. Finally, this was also the week in which Marvel Comics announced the female Thor, and Falcon taking over as Captain America, but both are probably non-starters for the Marvel movies, as those stories will probably be finished just in time for next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. (Speaking of which, this also happened this week). We can probably file these changes next to such past phenomenons as “Lady Loki,” and the deaths of Superman, Supergirl, the Flash, Green Lantern, Jimmy Olsen, Jean Grey, the Human Torch, Captain America, Thor, Vision, Wasp, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and… the list is too long. This is why the Internet invented hyperlinks. Anyway, yeah, be wary of taking too seriously “big changes” in comic book characters.


Jason Sudeikis and Jeremy Irons have joined the cast of Focus Features’ Race, the quickly developing biopic about Olympic athlete Jesse Owens, who will be played by relative newcomer Stephen James. This is also the fist we’ve heard about Race being the title of this particular film, which is one of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-that examples of surprisingly sublime obviousness. Of course, a movie about the African-American runner who embarrassed Adolf Hitler is going to be called… Race. Clever. Race will be directed by Stephen Hopkins, whose almost entirely “Rotten” RT Tomatometer is the reason this story was almost a Rotten Idea (barely saved by his one “Fresh” film being another biopic, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers).

Rotten Ideas of the Week


Just like how slow this column was to adjust to the idea of a “reboot” of [MIGHTY MORPHIN] POWER RANGERS, we’re going to slot this story as one of the week’s Rotten Ideas, regardless of how much people like one of the associated Marvel Mutant Power Wranglers movies. So, yes, Lionsgate has recruited X-Men: First Class writers Ashley Miller and Zack Steintz to start work on adapting their new Power Rangers movie, just as the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is just a few weeks away from release (and that one also formerly tried to just have two words in the title instead of four). This story also brought with it the news that Power Rangers is now being executive produced by Roberto Orci.


Trying to explain the release history of the horror franchise built around The Ring would be a lot easier if you could just refer someone to the tape. Anyway, so, first there was a Japanese film called Ringu, and then that got an English language remake as The Ring, which was followed by its own sequel, while the there were three more Japanese movies as well. So, this week’s news that Paramount Pictures is developing a prequel film about Samara, the dead girl in the tape, means that it will either be the third movie, or the seventh, depending upon how you count. The director hired to tackle the prequel is Brazil’s F. Javier Gutierrez, who still hasn’t had his English language debut, mostly because the efforts to reboot The Crow have not yet been realized. The prequel is currently being called The Ring 3D. Many of the teenagers who first made The Ring a box office sensation in 2002 are now almost 30, and quickly aging out of being interested in prequels to The Ring.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.

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