This week’s Ketchup covers the last full week before San Diego Comic-Con next weekend, which is traditionally a period in which news is light, as studios are holding back big announcements, except for the cases where some of that news gets leaked out a few days earlier than the studio bosses would like. This week’s news includes new roles for Betty White, Amanda Seyfried, Elizabeth Banks, Mark Ruffalo and Will Smith, adaptations of the lives of Cain (from the Bible) and Senator John Edwards, and new movies with connections to THREE different Disney animated movies (Peter Pan, Hercules and The Hunchback of Notre Dame).
This week once again saw several news stories for the various upcoming movies starring Marvel Comics characters. The highest profile news involves 2012’s The Avengers, which is expected to feature the Incredible Hulk, most likely as the team’s first major “villain.” That was a story element found in both the original early 1960s comics and in The Ultimates version of the Avengers. The first big news was the announcement that Edward Norton would not be returning as Dr. Bruce Banner, much like he himself had replaced Eric Bana for The Incredible Hulk. That news was followed by word that Marvel’s first choice to replace Edward Norton was Joaquin Phoenix, and that an offer was likely put out to the actor. However, Phoenix apparently did not take the role, as soon after, the news broke that Marvel was now in talks instead with Mark Ruffalo (who can currently be seen in The Kids Are Alright). As for why Norton is being replaced, the talented actor also earned a bit of a reputation during filming of The Incredible Hulk for his attempts to rewrite the script. Ruffalo is also a talented actor and is probably seen as someone who is more likely to play nice with Marvel and director Joss Whedon. This week, we also learned that Marvel Studios plans to convert their two summer, 2011 releases (Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger) to 3D in post production. Fans who have been following the 3D trend will remember that there has been a fair amount of hostility towards the way post-converted 3D movies like Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender have appeared (versus much better 3D in a movie like Avatar, which was filmed directly in 3D). Finally, 20th Century Fox continued casting X-Men: First Class this week with the news that young actress Jennifer Lawrence, who is currently starring in the indie film Winter’s Bone has been cast as the young Mystique.
Warner Bros-based producer Jerry Weintraub has long been trying to get the studio to greenlight a remake of the 1977 comedy Oh, God!. That movie featured George Burns as, well, God, as he helps a human played by John Denver sort through his problems. Following the reception of her guest appearance on Saturday Night Live, Weintraub hopes to entice Betty White to star in the remake, with Paul Rudd costarring as the human that she helps out. There’s no script yet, and it appears that White and Rudd haven’t even been officially approached yet, but maybe someone will get on Facebook and rally the troops.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is best known for creating TV shows like The West Wing, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Sorkin has recently been focusing on movies, including Charlie Wilson’s War, and David Fincher’s upcoming The Social Network and Sorkin co-adapted the fact-based baseball drama Moneyball. All three projects were based upon real events, and so is Sorkin’s latest project. He has acquired the rights to the Andrew Young book, The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down. In addition to writing and producing, Sorkin also expects to make his feature film directing debut with The Politician. The connections to Sorkin’s most famous TV show, The West Wing, are obvious; John Edwards is the North Carolina Senator who ran for both President and Vice President before becoming exposed as having an affair with a woman who bore his child while his wife Elizabeth Edwards struggled with breast cancer.
Paramount Pictures this week picked up an original pitch by “rookie screenwriters” Willie Block and Jake Emanuel (who first made the scene by selling their script Fuck You I Win). The untitled script reportedly mixes the basic story of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame with an action-adventure story that is being compared to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Directors Andy and Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski have been working on their next project for several months now, including shooting material with Arianna Huffington and Jesse Ventura. This week, the title was revealed to be CN9, and the premise has been revealed as well. CN9 will be set in the near future and involve a homosexual relationship between an American soldier and an Iraqi as war in that nation continues in the future. Unlike the blockbuster style of The Matrix, CN9 will reportedly be filmed in a less flashy “cinema verite” style. The Wachowskis are also currently casting the main characters of CN9 (Huffington and Ventura are just celebrity cameos).
Amanda Seyfried, the star of Mamma Mia! And a costar of HBO’s Big Love, has taken the lead role in the science fiction film I’m.mortal. The 20th Century Fox production was written by and will be directed by Andrew Niccol, whose past science fiction films have included Gattaca and S1m0ne. I’m.mortal is set in a future where people can avoid aging and live forever as long as they can continue to pay. The story will focus on a man who is being chased because his time is up, and Seyfried will play a woman that he kidnaps along the way.
After starring in I Am Legend, about a world taken over by zombies with vampire-like traits, Will Smith is now set to produce and star in an adaptation that some say is the original vampire: The Legend of Cain. Cain, one of the sons of Adam and Eve, is said to be the first murderer, having killed his brother Abel because he was jealous that Abel was loved by God. Much, much more recently, Cain has been claimed as being the first vampire most notably in the Vampire: The Masquerade roleplaying game, and that concept has since been borrowed by some other vampire stories. That’s also exactly what the direction that Will Smith’s new project will explore. There’s no director attached, but the script was written by Caleeb Pinkett (cowriter of the short film The 7th Commandment) and Dan Knauff (writer of episodes of Carnivale and Supernatural), with rewrites by Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center). It’s worth noting that in Supernatural, which Knauff wrote one episode of, Dean and Sam Winchester are direct descendants of Cain. This is a borderline Rotten Idea because there are just so many vampire movies both recently released and in the pipeline, that it’s difficult to consider the genre “fresh” at this point. However, there’s always the possibility that it could turn out to be an interesting project, depending upon what more we hear about it as it proceeds through development.
One of the most popular action cartoons (though short-lived) of the 1990s was Gargoyles, which was produced by Disney and aired on the Disney Channel. This week, Disney announced plans for a live-action movie about gargoyles, but the bummer is that it won’t actually be a movie based upon the Gargoyles series. Instead, this is just an original story that happens to feature the same mythological creatures without actually being based on characters from the TV show. Disney has hired screenwriter Zoe Green (who doesn’t yet have any produced credits) to write a script based on an original idea of hers about gargoyles.
The news broke this week that Millennium/Nu Image, the company behind the upcoming reboot of Conan are now eyeing another muscular warrior type: Hercules. The greek mythological character has of course been the star of many movies before, most of which were quite cheesy and cheaply made, as well as a 1997 Disney animated movie and the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys TV show starring Kevin Sorbo. The initial report said that Brett Ratner (Rush Hour 3, X-Men: The Last Stand), who had at one time been in talks to direct Conan, was in talks to direct. That was quickly debunked, but the project is indeed still in development. This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because the Conan reboot doesn’t have particularly good buzz around it, and so there’s no reason to expect that this Hercules will ultimately be much better than NINETEEN Italian, camp “classics” Hercules movies starring Steve Reeves (and others).
Walt Disney Pictures has cast Elizabeth Banks (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Zack and Miri Make a Porno) to star in Tink, a live action romantic comedy about the fairy character from Peter Pan. The only detail is that the story will play upon “mischievous nature” of Tinker Bell, so it’s possible that she will be playing a Cupid-type role, hooking up two regular sized people, as opposed to having a miniature romantic interest of her own. In addition to being a Disney project, Tink is also being produced by McG (Charlie’s Angels). A young actress named Elizabeth Wright Shapiro (whose highest profile credit is 2006’s The American Poop Movie) will be making her screenwriting debut adapting the script. Tink is this week’s Most Rotten Idea on several levels, including the casting of an actress best known for sexy roles as an adorable classic Disney animated character, and for being written by a young actress whose big movie had the word Poop in the title.