This Week’s Ketchup includes new roles for Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Robert Redford, Keanu Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hailee Steinfeld, Will Smith and Jaden Smith, as well as news about a possible Time Bandits remake and Peter Jackson’s upcoming Adventures of Tintin movie.
This Week’s Top Story
WILL AND JADEN SMITH LEND THEIR BOX OFFICE APPEAL TO M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN’S AMBITIOUS SCI-FI MOVIE
Director M. Night Shyamalan has been something of a fanboy punching bag for quite some time (since before The Happening, even). However, Hollywood loves box office math, and The Last Airbender actually took in $319 million worldwide, despite being perceived as a box office bomb here in the USA. M. Night’s chances of repeating that success increased substantially this week with news that both Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith have signed to star in Shyamalan’s untitled science fiction project (formerly titled One Thousand A.E., which stood for “After Earth”). Set 1,000 years in the future, the movie will be about a young boy who has to navigate the “abandoned and sometimes scary Earth to save himself and his estranged father after their ship crashes.” This will be the second time that Will and Jaden have played father and son, after 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness. Will Smith also produced the remake of The Karate Kid, which was of course, was also a surprise box office success of Will Smith-style proportions. The script was cowritten by M. Night Shyamalan (who wrote or cowrote most of his previous movies) and Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli). This science fiction epic will be produced and distributed by Columbia Pictures, which has a long history with both Will and Jaden Smith, which includes the Bad Boys and Men in Black franchises, as well as Hancock, The Karate Kid and The Pursuit of Happyness. Although this story might arguably be a “Rotten Idea” (depending upon what you think of M. Night Shyamalan), the obvious box office potential of Will and Jaden Smith is what lands it as this week’s Top Story.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 ROBERT REDFORD RETURNS TO BASEBALL IN A MOVIE ABOUT JACKIE ROBINSON
Professional sports has so long been a (mostly) integrated field (we’ll just ignore hockey), that it is difficult to imagine that it was just 64 years ago that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by becoming the first African American Major League Baseball player. Now, in a move that brings to mind one of the greatest baseball movies ever made (The Natural), Robert Redford has signed to star in an untitled movie about Jackie Robinson and Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey (who Redford will play). The untitled drama will be produced by Legendary Pictures, the Warner Bros-based company better known for big special effects movies like 300, Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies and Watchmen. The script was originally written by Kirk Ellis, who is best known for the HBO miniseries John Adams and TV biopics about Anne Frank, The Beach Boys and The Three Stooges. Ellis’ script was then rewritten by Brian Helgeland (Mystic River; cowriter of L.A. Confidential), who will also direct (A Knight’s Tale, Payback). Rather than solely being about how Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, the movie is expected to also focus on Robinson’s partnership with Branch Rickey, and both the personal ideological and business reasons why Rickey signed Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. This untitled movie is expected to be the first time Robert Redford has starred in a movie since 2007’s Lions for Lambs, and the first time he’s starred in a movie he didn’t direct since 2005’s An Unfinished Life.
#2 WHAT LIGHT THROUGH YONDER WINDOW BREAKS? AND JULIET IS… HAILEE STEINFELD
Since the remake of True Grit proved to be both a box office and critical success, young newcomer Hailee Steinfeld has been the focus of much casting attention. In addition to being a front runner to star in The Hunger Games (which eventually went to Jennifer Lawrence instead), Paramount is developing a teen thriller called Forgotten for Steinfeld, and she is also attached to a possible new Sleeping Beauty movie as well (as reported here last week). The movie that is closest to actually happening, however, was announced this week: Hailee Steinfeld is in talks to star as Juliet in a $15 million, independent adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which is likely to be the highest profile adaptation of the classic romance since Baz Luhrmann’s modernized Romeo + Juliet in 1996. At 14, Hailee Steinfeld will have the distinction of being the youngest actress to ever star in a Romeo and Juliet movie, which is after all, supposed to be a story of ill-fated teen lovers. Olivia Hussey, star of the 1968 version directed by Franco Zefferelli was just a year older than Steinfeld, at age 15. This latest version is likely to be a more faithful adaptation, as filming is scheduled to start in Italy later this spring, helmed by Italian director Carlo Carlie (Fluke, The Flight of the Innocent). Academy Award winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park, The Young Victoria) adapted the original Shakespeare play.
#3 DETAILS OF PETER JACKSON’S ADVENTURES OF TINTIN REVEALED
The world is still several months away from seeing whether Steven Spielberg’s CGI motion capture adaptation of Herge’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn works as a movie or not. The Adventures of Tintin was a series of 24 graphic novels about the globetrotting adventures of a young Belgian reporter that was one of the most recognizable children’s book series of the 20th century (but was never quite as popular in the USA). The plan was always for Steven Spielberg to direct the first movie (which he has), and for his coproducer Peter Jackson to then direct the second movie. Along the way, Peter Jackson ended up spending years working on more J.R.R. Tolkien movies (the two parts of The Hobbit, due out in late 2012 and late 2013). That has undoubtedly slowed down Jackson’s ability to actually make the second Tintin movie, but this week, we at least found out exactly what that movie will be about. British author Anthony Horowitz, creator of Alex Ryder: Operation Stormbreaker (he also adapted his book for that movie) revealed this week that he is working on adapting the next Tintin, which will be based upon Prisoners of the Sun, the 14th book in the series. Prisoners of the Sun was actually the second part of a two book adventure set in the Peruvian Andes, involving a newly-discovered group of modern day Incans, so it is likely that the 13th book, The Seven Crystal Balls, will also be adapted as part of the movie. It would be strange for the movie to just start in the middle of the story. There’s no word yet on when Peter Jackson will be available to start filming The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun. Most of the voice/motion capture cast of the first movie, including Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are expected to return for this second movie.
#4 BRITISH CULT TV SERIES THE SWEENEY GETTING A MOVIE REBOOT
Adapting old American TV shows into big screen movies is a decades old tradition (remember The Mod Squad and Dragnet?) with varying results. What is less common is the same being done with classic old British TV shows. The Sweeney was a cool and action-filled 1975-1978 British cop show that has been acknowledged as an inspiration for both Hot Fuzz and the original British TV show Life on Mars. Now, The Sweeney is also getting a movie adaptation makeover of its own, with a modern setting and Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast, The Departed) and relative newcomer Ben Drew (Harry Brown) as members of London’s “Flying Squad” branch of specialist detectives. The remake of The Sweeney promises to be “packed full of fast cars, action and wisecracks,” and will be directed by Nick Love (Outlaw, The Football Factory) from a script by frequent Danny Boyle collaborator John Hodge (Trainspotting, The Beach, Shallow Grave).
#5 STEVE CARELL AND KEIRA KNIGHTLEY TO BE AN UNLIKELY ROMANTIC DUO AT THE END OF THE WORLD
It is inevitable that a certain number of romantic comedies are going to be made each year. The genre may be mostly shallow and predictable, but “movie dates” are unlikely to be going away any time soon. So, if we’re going to have to have them anyway, it’s refreshing when a project is announced that seems to at least be trying something new. Steve Carell (age 48) and Keira Knightley (age 26) are in talks to costar in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. With the world ending, Carell’s character goes off on a road trip to find his high school sweetheart, and he is accompanied by his neighbor, to be played by Keira Knightley. So, the age gap between Carell and Knightley is not necessarily significant, and is probably a big part of the comedy. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World will be the directorial debut of (and was written by) Lorene Scafaria, who made her debut adapting Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Filming is expected to start in May, 2011, as Steve Carell’s first movie after leaving his run on NBC’s The Office.
#6 KEANU REEVES SAYS, “WHOA, I KNOW… TAI CHI.”
Is it really now 12 years since Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne had their big kung fu training session in The Matrix? That film fundamentally changed action movies and elevated Keanu Reeves to being a true A-list star. Now, Keanu Reeves has his eye on making his directorial debut with Man of Tai Chi. Reeves would also costar as the film’s villain, which will be set in the modern day, but pay homage to older kung fu movies. Man of Tai Chi doesn’t yet have financing, but is expected to be an international collaboration, filmed in both Chinese and English, and filmed in China as well. No other details are known about Man of Tai Chi yet, but there is a script (by an unknown writer). Man of Tai Chi almost landed in the Rotten Idea category, but as an unknown property, this writer is giving Keanu Reeves the benefit of the doubt. It sounds at least more promising than 47 Ronin, which the star is currently filming in 3D for a November 21, 2012 release. Also looming on the horizon is the possibility of a third Bill & Ted movie.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 THE CAST OF THE THREE STOOGES MAKES IT LOOK LIKE A TV SHOW PILOT
Once upon a time, the expected cast of the Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s ambitious Three Stooges movie included such big name movie stars as Jim Carrey, Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro. Oh, how times have changed. The actors that the Farrellys have actually been able to cast as two of the stooges were announced in the last several days. Sean Hayes, who is best known for being flamboyant in the long-running TV show Will & Grace will star as Larry and Will Sasso (from MadTV) will play Curly. Sasso does bear a resemblance to Curly Howard, but the choice of Sean Hayes is arguably bewildering and difficult to imagine. One possibility is that the Farrelly Brothers may be reimagining Larry as being gay (not that Sean Hayes can’t play straight, but his sexuality is almost what he’s known for). Moe remains uncast, although Johnny Knoxville is frequently mentioned. In addition to his TV work, Sean Hayes has mostly done just movie voice work (Igor and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore), with his last live action appearance being a small role in 2007’s The Bucket List. The TV show connections don’t end with Will Sasso and Sean Hayes, as Sofia Vergara (ABC’s Modern Family) is also in talks to play an unspecified female lead. Another actress that the Farrelly Brothers have mentioned as hoping to cast is Cher, who would play the Mother Superior that the Stooges “terrorize” early in the film. Rather than being a biopic, or even one feature length story, The Three Stooges will be an anthology of three half hour segments, each using a different classic Three Stooges score, and filmed in a different style from the original Stooges’ lengthy career of comedic short films.
#2 ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER’S PLANS TO “BE BACK” IN MOVIES INCLUDE THE GOVERNATOR
Last week, Arnold Schwarzenegger launched a pretty big publicity push for the upcoming 52 episode animated TV series The Governator. The obviously self-aware and over-the-top cartoon (produced by Stan Lee) depicts a retired Arnold Schwarzenegger as a superhero who fights such threats as “robots rampaging through San Francisco” (no, seriously!), set against the music of the Black Eyed Peas’ “Pump It,” and includes a sight gag borrowed from Three Kings. Well, The Governator won’t be limited to just TV screens, as this week Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed that the plan is for the TV show to lead to a 3D feature film in early 2013. What was unclear about the announcement is whether the 3D movie will also be animated, or if it will feature Schwarzenegger as a live action version of his new superhero alter ego. As for what Schwarzenegger’s first live action post-gubernatorial role will be, he’s reportedly narrowed the list down to two choices: The Last Stand or The Tomb. The Last Stand would be directed by Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon (A Tale of Two Sisters; The Good, the Bad, the Weird; I Saw the Devil), and is about an American sheriff fighting a Mexican drug cartel threatening his small town. The Tomb would be directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, King Arthur), and is about an architect who must escape from the super prison that helped design (sort of like a cross between The Rock and Flightplan). Whether you think any of this belongs in the “Rotten Idea” category probably depends upon what you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a movie star, and possibly upon whether you think The Governator is either inherently “stupid” (in a bad way), or “so stupid it’s AWESOME.”
#1 TIME BANDITS PROVES THAT NO CHERISHED RELIC OF YOUR CHILDHOOD IS SAFE FROM BEING REMADE
Due to the timing of April Fool’s Day, last week’s column was written a day early, and so this story is technically from last week, but it was too Rotten to be forgotten. Producers Guy Collins and Michael Ryan, the guys behind the CGI animated Planet 51 and the Sci-Fi TV movie Highlander: The Source, are in talks with “an unnamed Hollywood co-producer” to reboot the classic 1980s fantasy adventure Time Bandits directed by Terry Gilliam. Last year, Terry Gilliam had talked about an idea of a 3D version of Time Bandits, but it’s unclear if he was talking about remaking it or just applying 3D to the original film. It’s also unclear whether what Terry Gilliam was talking about has anything at all to do with this latest news. Time Bandits was the story of a young British boy who accidentally joins up with a band of time-travelling, mischievous “little people” engaged in a crime spree that takes them to a series of significant historical eras, including encounters with Napoleon, Robin Hood and King Agamemnon. If this remake moves forward, the plan is to remake Time Bandits as a “big-screen, kid’s action franchise.” This is the week’s Most Rotten idea because some movies should just be left alone. Please. I should note that if Terry Gilliam was actually confirmed as directing the remake, this story would probably be a Fresh Development. But he isn’t (yet), so here we are.
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.