This week’s Ketchup features a lot of big name franchises. Included in the mix are movies based on Aquaman, Dilbert, The Flash, Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, MAD Magazine, Mass Effect, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman, as well as new movies for Christian Bale, James McAvoy and Bruce Willis.
Details of Time Warner’s investor day were reported online this week, and they include plenty of new details about Warner Bros’ plans for DC Comics superheroes. First, there is The Flash, and the news that a movie based on the super-speedster is “nearing a greenlight,” which suggests a release date sometime in 2012 (after the 6/17/11 release of Green Lantern). Also in development are movies for Wonder Woman, Aquaman and characters from MAD Magazine (possibly Spy vs Spy?). This is, of course, not the first time we’ve heard about plans for a Wonder Woman movie, as there has been talk about about a movie for well over 10 years now. Whenever a beautiful young and athletic brunette actress comes upon the scene, it seems like rumors of a Wonder Woman movie aren’t too far behind. However, the inclusion of Wonder Woman on WB’s short list is a completely different matter. As for Aquaman, that’s a character that has not really been in any active form of development much, although there was that movie-within-a-TV-show directed by James Cameron on Entourage a few years back. Also surprising was the revelation that Warner Bros is already scheduling Sherlock Holmes 2 for a mid-December, 2011 release date, just two years after the first movie opened a few months ago. The Hangover 2 now has a release date of May 26, 2011, which is basically Memorial Day weekend next year. Finally, although they were already announced, it would be an oversight not to mention (again) that the third Christopher Nolan Batman movie is scheduled for July 20, 2012. And the next Superman movie (which Nolan is also guiding through development) is scheduled for a release in the holiday season of late 2012.
Legendary Pictures is the Warner Bros-based company responsible for movies like 300, Watchmen, The Dark Knight and Clash of the Titans. Legendary mostly focuses on genre movies, and also has Jonah Hex and Inception coming this summer, and Godzilla, Batman 3, Superman: The Man of Steel and the Warcraft movie in development. This week, Legendary acquired the film rights to Mass Effect from EA/BioWare, adding another video game franchise to its development slate. Mass Effect was first released in 2007 on the XBox 360 (and later on the PC), and was the first game in a planned trilogy. The two Mass Effect games released thus far are set in the late 22nd century and follow the outer space adventures of an officer named Shepard as humans attempt to establish their place among the many spacefaring alien races. Mass Effect is being adapted by screenwriter Mark Protosevich (The Cell; cowriter of I Am Legend), who also cowrote next year’s Thor and the planned remakes of Oldboy and The Bride of Frankenstein.
With the notable exception of American Psycho, Christian Bale’s filmography is dominated by grim and tough characters. His latest project continues this path as Bale is in talks to work with director John Hillcoat (The Road, The Proposition) on a movie called The Revenant. Based upon a novel by Michael Punke, The Revenant is a revenge story about a 1800s frontiersman (Bale) who hunts down the men who left him for dead after he was mauled by a bear. At one time, Samuel L. Jackson was attached to star in The Revenant, but Bale appears to have replaced Jackson. The Revenant was adapted by screenwriter Mark L. Smith (Vacancy), who also wrote Joe Dante’s upcoming film, The Hole. There’s no word yet on when The Revenant will start filming, but you don’t have to wait long to see the next western from director John Hillcoat. This Saturday, FOX will premiere Hillcoat’s 30-minute short film filmed based upon the video game Red Dead Redemption.
Quentin Tarantino’s third movie as director, Jackie Brown, was an adaptation of the 1992 novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard. The characters that were portrayed in Jackie Brown by Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson also appeared in Leonard’s 1978 novel The Switch. And now, with Tarantino’s approval, and with Elmore Leonard as an executive producer, The Switch is also being adapted as a movie, which makes it effectively a prequel to Jackie Brown. The Switch is the story of two ex-con car thieves who team up to kidnap a land developer’s wife, but their plan goes awry when it turns out he doesn’t want her back. The characters originally played by De Niro and Jackson will be played by younger actors in The Switch, since it’s set considerably earlier in their lives. The independent production was written by Dan Schechter (2006’s The Big Bad Swim), and there is no director yet.
A few years back, it was reported that comic strip creator Scott Adams had sold the rights to adapt his popular office worker character Dilbert as a feature film. The Dilbert project finally has news again, although now at Phoenix Pictures (License to Wed, Shutter Island). Phoenix has reportedly hired director Ken Kwapis (He’s Just Not That Into You) to take on Dilbert. Kwapis’ TV work also includes 12 episodes of NBC’s The Office, which is obviously a close parallel to what we might imagine a Dilbert movie might be like. The difference, of course, is that The Office doesn’t feature a talking dog. There’s also no screenwriter for Dilbert yet, so the challenge of how to fit Dogbert into a live action comedy (unless Dogbert is a CGI character) will go to someone who hasn’t been hired yet. Coincidentally, Dilbert producer Tariq Jalil also has Marmaduke coming to theaters soon, so that may give us an idea of what they have in mind for Dilbert.
This week, we found out the names of five of the young actors who have met with director Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) about possibly starring in Sony’s reboot of Spider-Man (scheduled for 7/3/12). The five actors range in age from 18 to 27. The most famous of them is 24-year-old British actor Jamie Bell, who is best known for starring in Billy Elliot, and who also had a supporting role in Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Another Brit is 19-year-old Frank Dillane, who played the young Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The oldest candidate is Andrew Garfield, who was born in Los Angeles, but has also appeared in mostly British TV shows and movies, including the Red Riding trilogy (he’s also in David Fincher’s upcoming Facebook movie, The Social Network). 20-year-old Alden Ehrenreich was reportedly discovered by Steven Spielberg when the director saw a comedy video starring Ehrenreich at a bat mitzvah (and he also costarred in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro last year). Finally, there is the youngest of the five, 18-year-old Josh Hutcherson, who costarred in Zathura and Bridge to Terabithia, and is also one of the teen rebels in this fall’s Red Dawn remake. This story is only marginally a Rotten Idea, because this writer really does hope the Spider-Man reboot turns out to be a great superhero movie. However, the idea of rebooting Spider-Man so soon (in relative terms) after the franchise got started, still is one that will have to prove itself with the finished product. Until then, I am, like many fans, skeptical more than welcoming with open (webbed) arms.
Bruce Willis is in early talks to star in The Tomb, which would reunite him with his Tears of the Sun director, Antoine Fuqua (Shooter, Training Day). Willis would star in the Summit Entertainment prison escape drama as “the world’s foremost authority on structural security” who is framed and imprisoned in one of the prisons he himself designed. So, basically, The Tomb sounds a bit like the prison version of Flight Plan (starring Jodie Foster as an airplane expert on an airplane she designed). The Tomb was written by Miles Chapman (cowriter of Road House 2: Last Call), and rewritten by Jason Keller (Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie). The Tomb is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas, because the premise just seems really, really incredulous. Where exactly is the logic of putting a prisoner in a super high security prison that HE designed? If you can spot the problems before even finishing a short paragraph about the movie, it’s probably a Rotten Idea to begin with.
Last week’s top story was Megan Fox’s departure from Transformers 3, regardless of whether you think she quit or was fired. Michael Bay didn’t waste much time in finding who he wanted to effectively replace Megan Fox. It is interesting to note that Fox’s character is not being recast, but that an entirely new character was written, apparently in the last week or so, to instead be Shia LaBeouf’s new love interest. And the lucky girl is… a Victoria’s Secret model named Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Huntington-Whiteley has no acting experience, with her IMDb page consisting entirely of appearances on The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and as herself in an episode of Britain’s Next Top Model. It’s arguable that by casting a non-actress swimsuit model, Michael Bay is sort of making a statement about what he thought Megan Fox brought to the table for the first two Transformers movies. However, this is also one of this week’s Rotten Ideas for, well, obvious reasons. Yes, Ms. Huntington-Whiteley is very pretty, but what’s her on screen persona going to be other than… being pretty?
Generally, this column reports about movies far before they start filming (often years ahead of time). Every once in a while, however, a studio is able to sneak a movie into production without much being known about the movie at all. This week, 20th Century announced a release date of August 18, 2010 for an untitled vampire spoof. This is the latest “comedy” from directors/writers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Steltzer, the guys responsible for Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie. The obvious target this time around is the Twilight franchise (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse will have been in theaters seven weeks when this spoof is released). Nothing else is known about this spoof, except that Ken Jeong from The Hangover is rumored to be one of the ensemble cast members. As for how 20th Century Fox was able to film an entire movie without anyone knowing, it appears that filming in February was done under the cover title of LA Art Movie. This was probably an effective way of keeping young vampire movie fans totally disinterested in what they were doing. This spoof, which will probably have a title like Vampire Movie, is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas for a simple reason: I’ve seen some of Friedberg and Steltzer’s earlier films. Technically, they’re not really “comedies.”
James McAvoy definitely has a baby face that covers up the fact that he is actually already 31 years old. McAvoy’s age, or rather, the appearance of his age, is key to this story. The fresh-faced Scottish actor has been cast by 20th Century Fox as Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class. This latest entry in Fox’s mutant franchise is a prequel which shows how several of the classic X-Men first became students at Xavier’s School for Gifted Students. So, it was expected that the actor that would be playing Xavier would be younger than Patrick Stewart. However, let’s do some math. When Patrick Stewart starred in the first X-Men movie in 2000, he was 60, which is 29 years older than McAvoy’s age today. So, if you compare McAvoy’s age to the teenagers who will be his students in X-Men: First Class, and then add 29 years, you get adult X-Men who are in their mid-40s. Obviously, James McAvoy might be playing older than his actual age, but that’s why I started this story mentioning how young he looks. McAvoy would have a hard time convincing people that he’s 31, much less someone closer to (or in) their 40s, which is more in the age range that I would have expected this younger Charles Xavier to be. McAvoy’s apparent age might make more sense if Xavier’s First Class students were little kids, but we know based on the casting tidbits of recent weeks that Fox is indeed looking for actual teenagers for roles like Cyclops, Jean Grey and Beast. Anyway, the reason this was chosen as this week’s most Rotten Idea should be obvious: X-Men: First Class has the potential to be a cool reboot to the franchise, but the drastic de-aging of Charles Xavier seems a bit extreme. Who is Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn going to cast as Magneto… Christopher “McLovin” Mintze-Plasse?