This Ketchup covers another week full of superhero movie news (including Justice League, Wonder Woman, and Ant-Man). Also included in the mix were film development stories for two movies based on 1990s gaming phenomenons (Sonic the Hedgehog and Magic: The Gathering), and new roles for Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Tom “Loki” Hiddleston.
This Week’s Top Story
DC (RUMORED) TO ANNOUNCE JUSTICE LEAGUE, WONDER WOMAN
For the most part, the Weekly Ketchup tries to avoid spending too much time on unconfirmed rumors. Every once in a while, however, there are exceptions. This week, Deadline.com co-founder Nikki Finke launched her new blog with the scoop of what Warner Bros and DC Comics are (possibly) announcing next month at San Diego Comic-Con. What’s included in the mix are enough movies to give WB/DC three movies a year, starting in 2016 with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. If Finke’s source holds up, that movie would be followed by Shazam (July, 2016), Sandman (December, 2016), Justice League (May, 2017), Wonder Woman (July, 2017), a Flash/Green Lantern team up (December, 2017), and Man of Steel 2 (May, 2018). A few of those movies aren’t really surprises (Sandman, Justice League, and Wonder Woman), but the placement of some of them is unexpected (namely that Wonder Woman would be #5 on such a list). The long-in-development Shazam (Marvel owns the title rights to Captain Marvel) being #2 is a surprise, as is the notion that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is not a Man of Steel sequel (perhaps the idea is that Man of Steel 2 would be the next solo Superman movie). Other DC titles that WB is known to have in development include The Metal Men, The Suicide Squad, and Guillermo del Toro’s Justice League Dark project. This scoop about WB planning three DC movies a year comes at a time when the current top 3 box office movies for 2014 are all based on Marvel characters (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past), even if only one of them was directly made by Marvel. Fans gripe about Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four being outside Marvel’s purveyance, but it’s also part of why Marvel characters dominate the movies so much (three studios can simply produce more big movies than just one alone). So, even if this rumor is true, and WB/DC release three movies in 2016, they’ll (possibly) be going up against Captain America 3, X-Men: Apocalypse, The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (though that one might be pushed to 2017), and an untitled Marvel film (that’s probably Doctor Strange). And that’s presuming Marvel doesn’t have its own plans to increase the number of movies it releases each year. And here’s one more related story: it’s probably not a coincidence that the day before Nikki Finke’s scoop, Warner Bros and Mattel extended their toy contract for characters from comics, TV shows, and movies.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 JAKE GYLLENHAAL PLANS DEMOLITION WITH DALLAS BUYERS CLUB DIRECTOR
Before last year’s Dallas Buyers Club, French-Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee was mostly known (if he was known at all) for 2009’s The Young Victoria. A year later, Vallee is being seen by some as something of an acclaim supplier after Dallas Buyers Club landed Academy Awards for both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. If there’s any validity to this notion, then we learned this week that it might be Jake Gyllenhaal who next benefits from whatever magic mojo Vallee can give to his male stars. Jake Gyllenhaal is in talks with John Malkovich’s Mr. Mudd production company to star in Demolition, which Jean-Marc Vallee has lined up as his next picture. Written by Bryan Sipe, Demolition is “the story of an investment banker struggling to understand his emotional disconnect after the tragic death of his wife. He begins to tear apart his life in a effort to see where he went wrong and is ultimately rescued by a woman he meets in a chance encounter.” And then, hilarity ensues (…or not). Presumably, the next step would be to cast the female lead.
#2 TOM HIDDLESTON: FROM LOKI TO… HANK WILLIAMS, SR?
When Tom Hiddleston, AKA Marvel’s Loki, showed up recently in Muppets Most Wanted, not looking anything like Loki, many audience members may have felt like, “I know that guy… but I can’t quite place the face.” Hiddleston is currently in exactly that position: he’s had one really big breakout role, but in other films, he’s still enough of a cipher that his fame doesn’t interfere. As such, Hiddleston may still be in the position of being able to star in a biopic without audiences being distracted. It also doesn’t hurt that the biopic in question is for someone better known to modern audiences for his voice than his face. Tom Hiddleston is attached to star as country singer Hank Williams (Sr) in the biopic I Saw the Light. Hank Williams Sr was one of the first superstars of country music, who died before his 30th birthday in 1953, leaving behind eerily prophetic songs with titles like “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.” When filming starts in Louisiana in October, Tom Hiddleston will not only adopt an Alabama accent, but he will do all of the singing for the role as well. I Saw the Light will be the second film as director (after 2006’s Flash of Genius) for Marc Abraham, who is best known as a producer of films like Children of Men, Slither, and the recent remakes of Dawn of the Dead, The Thing, and RoboCop. So, are you ready for some football, you mewling quim?
#3 RYAN GOSLING AND RUSSELL CROWE MAY TEAM UP FOR KISS KISS, BANG BANG DIRECTOR
It may seem obvious now, but when Shane Black cast Robert Downey, Jr. for the 2005 film Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, RDJ was three years away from fully making his comeback as Iron Man. (Unfortunately, whatever magic was in the air for RDJ didn’t rub off on costar Val Kilmer… yet.) The next two stars that Shane Black is hoping to work with are Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, who are being courted for the 1970s film noir The Nice Guys. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, The Nice Guys is about two alcoholics who team up to investigate the “suicide” of a porn actress after their aunt reports seeing her alive after her supposed death. Talks are ongoing, and Russell Crowe’s involvement is particularly questionable, as filming may conflict with upcoming publicity for his directorial debut, The Water Diviner, which is expected to be doing the festival circuit this fall.
#4 DREAMWORKS ANIMATION UNVEILS SCHEDULE FOR 2016-2018, INCLUDING CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS
Taking advantage of the hype for their new film How to Train Your Dragon 2, DreamWorks Animation this week unveiled their release plans for the years 2017 and 2018, which continues DWA’s steady rate of three films a year. In 2017, DreamWorks Animation will be giving us the children’s book series adaptation Captain Underpants (1/13/17), the possibly to-be-retitled Mumbai Musical (3/10/17), and the sequel The Croods 2 (11/3/17). In 2018, DreamWorks’ animated films will be the Australian outback adventure Larrikins (2/16/18), and the sequels Madagascar 4 (5/18/18) and Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves (11/2/18). DreamWorks Animation also announced a new film for March 18, 2016 called Boss Baby, but very little is currently known about it, except that it’s from Madagascar franchise director Tom McGrath.
#5 GAME OF THRONES WRITER/PRODUCER TO STACK THE DECKS OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING
With Harry Potter done for a few years now, and The Hobbit finishing up this December, Hollywood is currently in something of a lull when it comes to big ambitious fantasy adaptations. However, there is the Warcraft movie coming on March 11, 2016, and there are also plans for a new Dungeons & Dragons reboot. It might be that the next wave of fantasy film franchises might come not from books but from games. What Dungeons & Dragons was to the 1980s, and what World of Warcraft was to the 2000s, is what Magic: The Gathering was to the 1990s. We first heard in January that 20th Century Fox had acquired the film rights to the collectible card game, and this week, the news broke about who will be dealing the cards, so to speak. Byan Cogman, who has worked as a writer, producer, and story editor on HBO’s Game of Thrones, has been hired by 20th Century Fox, Hasbro, and X-Men writer/producer Simon Kinberg to start work on a Magic: The Gathering script (replacing Kinberg as the project’s writer). There are thousands of Magic: The Gathering cards spread across the many expansion sets, and almost all of them introduce world-building characters, legends, lore, and spells, so there’s a lot of material for Bryan Cogman to potentially adapt.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 HARRISON FORD BREAKS HIS ANKLE ON THE MILLENNIUM FALCON SET OF STAR WARS EPISODE VII
Usually, a story’s Fresh or Rotten status is at least partly a reflection of the potential “quality” of the movie in question. Sometimes, however, a story is just Rotten because, you know, we don’t want bad things to happen to cool people. That’s the case with this one, which you may have already heard about, but here we go: Harrison Ford was hospitalized this week in England following an accident on the Star Wars Episode VII set in which his right ankle was broken (ouch!) by one of the doors on the Millennium Falcon. Filming will continue while Ford rests and recuperates. Anyway, this is a good opportunity for us to reflect back on some of Harrison Ford’s right ankle’s best performances. This was also a fairly busy week for unconfirmed Star Wars rumors, including possible scoops about the characters played by John Boyega and Domhnall Gleeson, and a rumor that Simon Pegg might appear in Star Wars Episode VII.
#3 THIS WEEK IN FILM CREW CHANGES: WB’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, PACIFIC RIM 2, AND NOW YOU SEE ME 2
Just a week after Walt Disney Pictures announced that director Bill Condon has joined their live action remake of Beauty and the Beast, the previously announced Warner Bros version of the story hit a snag this week. Although Emma Watson is still involved, and a new director is in the process of being sought, Guillermo del Toro will no longer be the man behind the camera. Guillermo del Toro will still produce the film, which Warner Bros is hoping to still get going before Walt Disney Pictures can finish their own film. Dueling movies, a Hollywood tradition. In addition to directing the haunted house film Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Toro also made the news this week by talking up his plans for a sequel to last year’s Pacific Rim. The news here is that Travis Beacham, who wrote the first film, is not returning for the sequel. Instead, del Toro is now collaborating with Zak Penn, who is best known for working on a whole bunch of Marvel adaptations, for both Marvel itself and 20th Century Fox. It’s worth noting that GDT and Zak Penn are proceeding with this despite the fact that, technically, Legendary Pictures hasn’t yet given a greenlight to a sequel to Pacific Rim. And finally, in other sequel director news, Lionsgate is talking to Jon M. Chu (who is currently filming Jem and the Holograms) about replacing Louis Leterrier for the sequel to last year’s surprise hit Now You See Me, about a gang of magicians-turned-bank-robbers.
#2 SPEAKING OF GAMES POPULAR IN THE 1990S… SONIC THE HEDGEHOG: THE MOVIE
Even if The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is (currently) the #2 box office success of 2014, there are still pundits that are pointing out that previous Sony Spider-Man movies did much better. It’s all part of a film industry narrative in 2014 that Sony Pictures needs to find more new franchises, and one that the studio appears to be listening to, as they continue to announce exactly those sorts of new projects. This week, the big one was a videogame adaptation which would have seemed highly unlikely back in the 1990s when SEGA and Sony were direct competitors. This is the 2010s, however, and SEGA is not the videogame giant it once was. And so, Sony and SEGA are teaming up for a CG-animated/live action adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog. We’re calling this one of the week’s Rotten Ideas mostly because the only creative name attached to Sonic the Hedgehog right now is producer Neal H. Moritz, and his RT Tomatometer page is a big long list of Rotten splotches. This news is also notable because Sony is also working with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg on an adaptation of the book Console Wars, about SEGA and Nintendo in the 1990s, and Sonic the Hedgehog was definitely a big part of that larger story.
#1 MARVEL ANNOUNCES NEW DIRECTOR AND WRITER FOR NEXT YEAR’S ANT-MAN
Although the news of Edgar Wright’s departure (after eight years) from directing Marvel’s Ant-Man seemed to happen in the midst of an online hurricane of frustration and rage, the news just two weeks later of his replacement seemed to almost get overlooked immediately. The director who finally landed the Ant-Man gig was Peyton Reed, whose films to date have included Bring It On, Down with Love, The Break-Up, and Yes Man. Adam McKay, the director of the Anchorman movies, who had previously been mentioned as a possibility, was also announced as the screenwriter who will be making the script revisions (that reportedly led to Edgar Wright’s departure). Although Peyton Reed directed one movie that this writer really liked (Down with Love), his Tomatometer scores of late has been Rotten, and none of his films except Down with Love had the sort of visual flair you would expect from a superhero movie director. However, Down with Love did have a retro vibe, which might be why Reed was hired for Ant-Man, since it is reportedly partially set in the past. In other Marvel Studios news, Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch were mentioned as possible stars for Doctor Strange, but Aiden Gillen (“Littlefinger” from Game of Thrones) wasn’t. We all have our favorites, I guess.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.