This week’s Ketchup includes new movies for Leonardo DiCaprio and Hugh Jackman, sequel news for Kill Bill and Transformers, two CGI animated movies about the weird twists and turns of evolution and a surprising amount of news of English language remakes of foreign movies most of us didn’t see (and one that a lot of us did, and loved).
Entertainment Weekly reports that while talking to an Italian television show, director Quentin Tarantino confirmed that he plans to revist Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill 3. Tarantino wants to have a ten year gap between the release of Kill Bill 2 and Kill Bill 3 (some sites are mentioning a rumored title of Kill the Bride), and that would put the release some time in 2014. That would still give QT time to make another movie before then. In 2014, Uma Thurman will have aged to 44, and her daughter from the first two movies will have aged as well. There are several rumors about what exactly the third movie’s plot could be about, most of which involve characters from the first two movies getting revenge against The Bride for the violence she inflicted on their lives.
20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios are teaming up with Electronic Arts to adapt their hit 2008 PC game Spore. The film would be a CGI animated “creature feature” directed by Chris Wedge (Ice Age, Robots). This news comes just a week after Wedge was also announced as director of another new movie for Fox and Blue Sky, and adaptation of the children’s book Leaf Men. In Spore, players create and evolve life, beginning at a a microscopic level and eventually evolving into the dominant race of a planet, and ultimately exploring space and interacting with races created by other players. The game designer of Spore was Will Wright, famous for his work in creating previous “world building” games under the Sim brand, including SimCity, SimEarth and of course, The Sims. EA already has some 100 million unique creatures created by players registered in their database. In addition to the original PC game, Electronic Arts has also extended the growing franchise to other platforms. The job of adapting Spore, which does not have anything resembling a single storyline is going to screenwriters Greg Erb (cowriter of Senseless, RocketMan) and Jason Oremland, who are also two of the writers of this December’s Disney release The Princess and the Frog.
20th Century Fox is developing an adaptation of the 1964 mystery novel The Deep Blue Goodbye by John D. MacDonald, with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star. DiCaprio would play Travis McGee, a character that went on to appear in 21 novels, each with a title featuring a color. McGee is “a self-described beach bum who lives aboard the 52-foot houseboat The Busted Flush, and alleviates his cash flow problems by hiring on as a salvage consultant… recover(ing) property for clients, taking a hefty percentage and getting into a lot of danger and romance in sun-drenched Florida.” The script was adapted by Dana Stevens (City of Angels, For the Love of the Game), and is currently out for consideration by several directors. DiCaprio will also be producing via his Appian Way company, and if The Deep Blue Goodbye is a hit, with 20 other books in the series, the star could find a reliable source of movies for the foreseeable future.
Warner Bros has struck a deal with Vanguard Animation (Space Chimps, Happily N’Ever After) to produce a movie version of the Animal Planet documentary-style animated series, The Future Is Wild. The series speculates on how life might evolve on Earth over the next 200 million years. As climate changes and the continents move, many of today’s dominant animals, such as mammals, birds and reptiles eventually go extinct, leading to a future where descendants of squids and octopi come to land to become the new dominant races, along with evolved worms and insects. This deal is especially timely considering that the concept bears a resemblance to the mix of animation and evolution in the plans for a movie based upon Spore, also announced this week. The timing also fits in with the news that a second season of The Future Is Wild will be announced next week. The exact details of how The Future Is Wild will be adapted are not yet known, but the phrasing of the announcement seems to suggest that the movie will keep the series’ documentary-like style, rather than say, a dramatic interpretation of the material. The often bizarre evolutionary concepts in The Future Is Wild bear a close resemblance to the works of author Dougal Dixon, who also wrote the companion book, and whose own book, After Man: A Zoology of the Future, was at time being developed as a feature film of its own (but those plans have long since been scrapped).
Although his 2000 film debut, Thomas and the Magic Railroad, was not a commercial success, the popular children’s book and televison character Thomas the Tank Engine is once again being developed as a feature film project. Thomas the Tank Engine is, of course, an anthromorphic steam locomotive train who has several friends who are also trains, and together they have adventures on the rails. Josh Klausner (next April’s Date Night, one twelve credit screenwriters for Shrek the Third) has been hired to start work on adapting Thomas & Friends for the big screen. 2010 marks the 65th anniversary of Thomas the Tank Engine, and that year will also see the launch of a new CGI animated TV series that will provide voices for several characters that were previously mute. That series will then lead to the release of this feature film, scheduled for the spring of 2011. Alec Baldwin, who narrated many episodes of the original series, and appeared in the 2000 film, will not be involved with this version.
Just a few weeks after Guillermo del Toro announced plans for his Double Dare You partnership with Disney, Sam Raimi is also getting into the game of producing scary movies aimed at family audiences. Raimi’s Spooky Pictures is a subsidiary of his Ghost House horror label, and has a deal with Columbia Pictures. Spooky Pictures will get started with The Substitute, an English language remake of a 2007 Danish thriller about a sixth grade class who try to warn their parents that their new substitute teacher is actually an evil alien. Director Scott Derrickson (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) has started work on adapting the screenplay along with Paul Harris Boardman, who previously cowrote The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Urban Legends: Final Cut with Derrickson.
One of this year’s biggest arthouse hits was the romantic dramedy 500 Days of Summer, and now both the movie’s director and one of its costars are moving on to projects in which they will be tackling English language remakes of recent European movies. Director Mark Webb (who is also developing a Jesus Christ Superstar movie) is in negotiations to produce and direct Just Another Love Story, a remake of a 2008 Danish thriller about a crime photographer who pretends to be the boyfriend of a woman suffering amnesia, which goes terribly wrong when the real boyfriend shows up, and he’s distinctly not pleased. And then there’s young 12-year-old Chloe Moretz, who in addition to playing the sister in 500 Days of Summer, also stars in next year’s dark superhero movie Kick-Ass. Moretz has this week landed the lead role in Let Me In, the English language remake of last year’s arthouse hit Let the Right One In, which starts filming later this fall in New Mexico. Chloe Moretz will be joined by Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road), who will play the lead boy, and Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, HBO’s Six Feet Under), who will play her character’s adult guardian (sort of).
Director Michael Bay announced on his website this week that development of Transformers 3 formally started this week, with the Paramount targeting a release date of July 1, 2011. Both Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox (in spite of her recent complaints around Revenge of the Fallen) are both expected to return. Screenwriter Ehren Kruger (The Ring; cowriter of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) and Michael Bay met with Hasbro this week to discuss which new Transformers the toy company would like to see introduced in the next movie. That is, after all, what is most important to telling a Transformers movie’s story: what toys can the movie sell? Michael Bay also promised that his “little movie,” Pain and Gain, about two Florida body builders who get involved with extortion and kidnapping, will be his next project after Transformers 3. This news is therefore bad news for anyone who was awaiting Bad Boys 3 or Bay’s X-Men-like teen literature adapation I Am Number Four. If you figure a possible 2012 release for Pain and Gain, that means that any other Michael Bay movie is unlikely to happen before 2013, and that’s presuming that Bay doesn’t in the meantime sign on for Transformers 4. All of this news gets the “Rotten Idea” tag because Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was pretty awful, regardless of how much money it made. But, the rosy side of the news for those who dread any news of a Michael Bay movie is that this means a few more years of Bay not being able to direct any other movie, such as whatever favorite potentially big budget genre movie you as a fan might in particular cherish.
Temple Hill Entertainment, the production company of one of the producers of Twilight has secured the movie rights to L.A. Candy, the recent bestselling novel by Lauren Conrad, the star of MTV’s “reality” shows The Hills and Laguna Beach. In L.A. Candy, a 19 year old girl moves to Hollywood where she finds fame as a “reality” series star, forcing her to deal with being a big star. Conrad has plans to follow L.A. Candy with two more novels. The project is currently looking for a screenwriter to adapt the book. This one is a Rotten Idea for what I think are pretty obvious reasons. MTV’s “reality” shows obviously have good ratings, so someone is watching them, but the idea of a movie based upon what is basically a fictionalization of the experience of one of the stars of one of these shows is basically opening the Pandora’s Box on all sorts of potential cross pollination between reality shows and movies. Will people pay $10 to see what is basically a dramatized two hour episode of a reality show that they can already watch on TV for free? And even if they actually would, should they?
Hugh Jackman is in talks with DreamWorks to star in Real Steel, a futuristic sports movie set in a time when robots have replaced human fighters in the ring. Jackman would be playing a human ex-boxer who becomes a Robot Boxing promoter who finds a discarded robot that always seems to win. Jackman’s character also discovers he has a 13-year-old son that he bonds with as the scrappy robot fights his way to the top. Real Steel is based upon a short story by Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, What Dreams May Come) that was also the inspiration for an episode from the 5th season of The Twilight Zone, starring Lee Marvin as the ex-boxer. Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Cheaper by the Dozen) will be directing Real Steel from a script he is working on with screenwriter John Gatins (Hardball; cowriter of Coach Carter). DreamWorks hopes to start filming in May, 2010. Real Steel is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because the box office seems to be mostly saying that audiences do not have an instant love with big screen robots, and the saccharine sweetness of this sports story just seems to put it over the top as a likely schmaltzy movie that might feel like Bicentennial Man crossed with Rocky V.