This Week’s Ketchup is yet again stacked to the brim with remakes and reboots (Superman, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Robocop, Peter Pan), at least two sequels (Percy Jackson, Blade Runner), and other new movies for Quentin Tarantino, Tim Allen and Tom Hanks.
This Week’s Top Story
KNEEL BEFORE ARAGORN! MORTENSEN AND LANE WILL BE IN THE SUPERMAN REBOOT
The casting for Warner Bros’ reboot of Superman continues, even though the release date is going to be in December of 2012 (thanks to an expectedly long post-production process). The week started with the news that Zack Snyder’s top choice to play the film’s villain (who is most likely General Zod) is Viggo Mortensen. The biggest obstacle to Mortensen signing on appears to be Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsmen, which Mortensen may star in as the Huntsman, although he has not yet officially signed on. The choice for Mortensen is between reprising Terrence Stamp’s awesome role as General Zod in one of the biggest movies of 2012, or costarring with Kristen Stewart in a quasi-remake of a classic Disney movie. Kevin Costner is also still rumored to be in negotiations for the reboot, probably as Pa Kent. But Pa Kent?s wife has already been confirmed. Diane Lane has landed the role of Martha “Ma” Kent, which is mildly funny considering the last name of Clark Kent’s coworker, girlfriend and future wife (in the comics). Lane’s casting confirms the notion that the reboot is following the Smallville model of Clark Kent’s parents being important supporting characters in his story, and that “Ma” Kent (played by Annette O’Toole in Smallville) is going to, you know, be kind of hot.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 QUENTIN TARANTINO’S GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE MOVIE GENRES CONTINUES
Director/screenwriter Quentin Tarantino has been talking about making a Western for over 10 years now. At one time, he was talking about adapting Elmore Leonard’s 40 Lashes Minus One. More recently, Tarantino said he wanted to make a movie called A Southern, which would be a Western set during the slavery era. Well, we still don’t have a title, but the news came out that Quentin Tarantino is already lining up actors for a movie that he is currently writing. This story starts with an Italian interview with actor Franco Nero (Die Hard 2, Force 10 from Navarone), who said he was going to appear in a “spaghetti Western” directed by Tarantino and that it would have an ensemble cast that includes Keith Carradine and Treat Williams. Ain’t It Cool News, which has a long history of being able to get Tarantino-related scoops, followed this up by confirming that Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar for Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, is also expected to costar. Of course, we know nothing else about this Tarantino Western, such as the premise, or who any of these actors might be playing, but it looks like Tarantino is back to work.
#2 TOY STORY STARS TEAMING UP AGAIN FOR LIVE-ACTION JUNGLE CRUISE
Tom Hanks and Tim Allen have costarred together in the three Toy Story movies, but have not yet done a live-action movie together. Walt Disney Pictures is looking to correct that, with the news that the studio has attached both of them to star in Jungle Cruise. Based on the Disney theme park attraction, a live-action Jungle Cruise movie has been in development at Disney for many years. The Jungle Cruise takes the audience down simulated rivers around the world (Asia, Africa and the Amazon), and includes many animatronic animals (tigers, lions, crocodiles, etc). Tom Hanks will play a father taking his family on a tropical cruise, and Tim Allen will play the tour boat captain. The latest draft of the Jungle Cruise screenplay is being written by Roger S.H. Schulman, who cowrote Shrek, as well as the Disney direct-to-video sequels Mulan II and The Fox and the Hound 2.
#3 IF JOSH BROLIN IS TIM BURTON’S HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, WHO WILL JOHNNY DEPP PLAY?
Josh Brolin and producer/director Tim Burton are teaming up with Warner Bros to start development on a new adaptation of the 1831 Victor Hugo novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Brolin is attached to star as Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer who falls in love with a gypsy named Esmerelda. The Hunchback of Notre Dame has been adapted to film several times in the past, including movies where Quasimodo was played by Lon Chaney Sr. (1923), Charles Laughton (1939), Anthony Quinn (1956), Mandy Patinkin (1997) and the 1996 Disney animated movie. Lon Chaney’s Quasimodo also has the distinction of starting what became known as the “Universal Monsters” series of movies, which is decidedly politically incorrect since Quasimodo was more of a tragically disabled person than a “monster.” The novel will be adapted by screenwriters Kieran and Michele Mulroney, who wrote the 2009 indie comedy Paper Man and Warner Bros’ upcoming sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Tim Burton has not yet committed to directing this newest version, and is waiting to see the script.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#6 PERCY JACKSON RETURNS IN THE SEA OF MONSTERS
The last several years have seen many different movies based on fantasy children’s books in attempts to replicate the success of the Harry Potter movies. Most of them, however, were not successful enough to warrant the potential “franchise” continuing past the first movie. Last year’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief was an exception, however, with a worldwide box office total of over $226 million. So, Fox 2000 is moving forward with plans to adapt the next book in the series by Rick Riordan. The Sea of Monsters finds Percy Jackson trying to save a satyr friend from a Cyclops, while also attempting to find the Golden Fleece. This Percy Jackson book will be adapted by the screenwriting team of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, whose eclectic filmography includes Agent Cody Banks, That Darn Cat, Ed Wood and The People Vs Larry Flynt. Logan Lerman is attached to return as Percy Jackson, and it is expected that he will be joined by many other cast members from the first film. Someone who will not be returning, however, is Chris Columbus as director, although he is still one of the producers of the budding franchise. If all goes well with the script, Fox 2000 hopes to start filming as soon as the summer of 2012, in time for a likely release in 2013. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Sea of Monsters is a borderline “Rotten Idea” based mostly on the 50% Tomatometer for the first movie, and for how tired this franchise’s titles make my fingers when I have to type them.
#5 THE ROBOCOP REMAKE IS STILL HAPPENING, BUT WITHOUT THE DIRECTOR THAT FANS WERE HOPING FOR
MGM’s long financial struggles appear to have ended, and the studio is now ready to start developing movies again. MGM’s first choice is the long-planned remake of Robocop. A few years back, Darren Aronofsky had been attached to remake Robocop for MGM, but Aronofsky has since moved on to other projects, like The Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman. To replace Aronofsky, MGM is now in talks with Brazilian director Jose Padilha, whose crime dramas Elite Squad and Elite Squad 2 have received international acclaim, but are almost unknown here in the United States. Once Padilha has signed on, MGM will next look for a screenwriter to adapt Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 original Robocop. This is a borderline Rotten Idea because one of the sole reasons fans were optimstic about a Robocop remake was the involvement of Darren Aronofsky. Jose Padilha may be an excellent director, but it remains to be seen whether he can bring Robocop back in anything remotely as cool a fashion as Darren Aronofsky might have been able to.
#4 WHEN YOU THINK OF PETER PAN, OF COURSE YOU THINK OF CHANNING TATUM
Channing Tatum (Step Up, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), screenwriter Billy Ray (Shattered Glass; cowriter of Volcano) and producer Joe Roth (Alice in Wonderland, Knight and Day) have teamed up to pitch Hollywood studios on Pan, an origin story for J.M. Barrie’s classic character of Peter Pan. No studio has yet picked up their Pan pitch, but there’s a good chance that someone will. Pan is just the latest in a growing wave of fantasy-based remakes based upon classic stories that are in the public domain (and therefore, up for grabs as far as copyrights go). Joe Roth, in particular, is already also producing Oz, The Great and Powerful for Disney and Snow White and the Huntsman for Universal. Screenwriter Billy Ray also adapted the popular Suzanne Collins YA novel The Hunger Games, which is currently casting in time for a 2012 release. It is unclear exactly what Channing Tatum’s involvement in Pan might be, other than as a producer, as he would seem a very unlikely choice to play Peter Pan or really one else associated with him.
#3 SCREEN GEMS SAYS THE DEVIL MAY CRY, BUT WE’RE NOT CRYING OVER ALL THIS FAT RESIDENT EVIL CASH
Screen Gems is a subsidiary of Sony Pictures that specializes in genre movies, and the four Resident Evil movies have been their hottest property, making over $560 million worldwide. The Resident Evil movies are usually referred to as “video game adaptations,” except that for the most part, the movies are very divergent from the original Capcom games (except for some shared characters and concepts). Years ago, when Capcom found that the game they were developing as Resident Evil 3 was too unlike previous games, the title became Devil May Cry, and that game franchise has since sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Now, Screen Gems has acquired the rights to Devil May Cry as a movie franchise as well. Devil May Cry follows the continuing adventures of Dante, a guy with white hair and very large guns and swords who travels around the world, killing demons in an effort to avenge the death of his mother. Screenwriter Kyle Ward, who also wrote the upcoming video game adaptation Kane & Lynch, has been hired by Screen Gems to adapt Devil May Cry. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas based mostly on the Tomatometer scores of the Resident Evil movies, and also because Devil May Cry seems like a video game franchise whose glory days are mostly in the past, which puts the timeliness of a movie adaptation in question.
#2 THE G.I. JOE SEQUEL: NEVER SAY NEVER
Although G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was critically reviled, and not too popular with many fans either, Paramount Pictures is proceeding with plans for G.I. Joe 2, which is expected to start filming this fall. Stephen Sommers directed the first film, but for the sequel he will be replaced by a young director who recently delivered a hit movie for Paramount (although it’s debatable whether the movie’s success is really all due to him). Jon Chu was the director of Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, which would make him a great choice for G.I. Joe 2 if one expects it to be a 3D dance musical. Channing Tatum is expected to reprise his role as Duke in the sequel, and he did briefly work with Jon Chu on Step Up 2, in which he had a cameo role (Channing Tatum was the star of the first Step Up). The news of Chu’s hiring was quickly followed up by a “tweet” by Rachel Nichols, who played Scarlett in the first film. According to Nichols, the only characters that will return for G.I. Joe 2 are basically Duke (Tatum), and the two guys whose faces were covered up by masks: Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. This seems to suggest that Paramount is looking to replace the original film’s cast with characters from the massive world of G.I. Joe toys who might work for a lot less money.
#1 BLADE RUNNER PREQUELS AND SEQUELS A POSSIBILITY
Alcon Entertainment (The Blind Side, The Book of Eli), a production company based at Warner Bros, has secured the film and television rights to produce prequels or sequels to Ridley Scott’s 1982 science fiction classic Blade Runner (which Warner Bros also distributed). Set in Los Angeles in 2019, Blade Runner was a “neo noir” detective story (based on a story by Philip K. Dick) about genetically engineered androids called replicants, and their search for independence and arguably, a philosophical understanding of themselves. Alcon acquired these rights from Blade Runner producer Bud Yorkin. It’s also worth noting that a few years ago, it was revealed that the cowriters of Eagle Eye had actually worked for Bud Yorkin on a possible Blade Runner sequel script. There is no word yet as to what exactly Alcon or WB will do with these rights, which also include television, but what the rights do not include is a remake of Blade Runner itself. This is the week’s most Rotten Idea probably for the same reason that Alcon thinks it’s a great idea: Blade Runner regularly makes the “best movie ever” lists. A prequel or sequel has a good chance at sullying that reputation (remember how much people used to love The Matrix?).
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.