This week’s Ketchup includes news about new sequels in the Die Hard, Ice Age and Dark Crystal franchises and new projects for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Spielberg and the directors of The Incredibles, Stuart Little, Daybreakers and Kick-Ass. All of that plus news about biopics about the lives of Linda Lovelace and the members of N.W.A. await you in the latest edition of the Weekly Ketchup!
The R-rated superhero movie Kick-Ass didn’t do blockbuster business (it might not even make $50 million in the USA). However, director Matthew Vaughn is still getting work in the superhero genre, as this week, Vaughn was confirmed to be hired by 20th Century Fox to direct X-Men: First Class. Vaughn’s hiring is quite appropriate, as he had at one point been hired to direct X-Men: The Last Stand. Personal issues forced Vaughn to drop out of the project, he was replaced by Brett Ratner, and the rest is history. Vaughn will be very busy, as Fox has already announced a June 3, 2011 release date for X-Men: First Class, which means that Vaughn has less than 13 months to completely film and oversee postproduction on what will surely be a big special effects production, and that’s with no casting even done yet. Vaughn will, however, apparently have some help, as Bryan Singer (who is producing X-Men: First Class) is reportedly using the casting process hor his next film (Jack the Giant Killer) to also keep an eye out for young actors who could play a young Cyclops or Jean Gray. In other Marvel movie news, this week Hugo Weaving was officially announced as playing the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger (the title of which has been flipped around). That would have been one of this week’s headlines, but this story already got covered in the Weekly Ketchup nearly two months ago. That movie did however have real news in the casting of Toby Jones (Truman Capote in Infamous) as Arnim Zola, an evil Nazi scientist famous in the comics for being portrayed as a robot with his face displayed on a giant TV screen on the robot’s chest. Yes, really.
20th Century Fox is moving ahead with plans for a fifth Die Hard movie with the news that the studio is in talks with a screenwriter for the project. Skip Woods previously wrote Swordfish and Hitman, cowrote X-Men Origins: Wolverine and cowrote this summer’s The A-Team. The Die Hard movies of course depict the continuing action-packed adventures of New York cop John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, who always seems to be around when massive crime schemes go down. The Die Hard franchise took a 12-year break between 1995’s Die Hard With a Vengeance and 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard. No details are known about the premise of this fifth Die Hard. Bruce Willis, who turns 55 this year, is already signed to return as John McClane.
The last year or so has seen Steven Spielberg mentioned in association with probably about a dozen different projects, but the director has finally settled upon what will be his next actually produced movie. That DreamWorks movie will be War Horse, based upon the 1982 children’s novel of the same title by Michael Morpurgo. War Horse was also adapted for the stage in 2007, and is coming to Broadway in 2010. War Horse tells the story of the “extraordinary friendship between a boy and a horse who are separated but whose fates continue to be intertwined over the course of WWI.” War Horse is being adapted by screenwriters Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually) and Lee Hall (Billy Elliot). To prove that War Horse really is Spielberg’s next project, DreamWorks has already announced a release date of October 10, 2011. In other Spielberg news, it was just last week that the world found out that J.J. Abrams’ next movie (before he films Star Trek 2) will be an homage to the Spielberg movies of the 1970s, with Spielberg also producing. Well, this week, that movie’s trailer surprisingly debuted in theaters with Iron Man 2, letting us know that the title is Super 8 (like the old film stock). Super 8 reportedly tells the story of a group of kids in 1979 who spot an alien in Super 8 movie footage following a train wreck transporting artifacts from Area 51 to a facility in Ohio. J.J. Abrams filmed the trailer last month, but the movie itself doesn’t start filming until this fall on a budget of $45-$50 million. Paramount is aiming to release Super 8 sometime in the summer of 2011.
The search for a director for Paramount’s Mission: Impossible IV included consideration of Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) and Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead). The man who actually got the job however is Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant), who will be making his live-action debut with Mission: Impossible IV. No details are known about the premise of Mission: Impossible IV, except that it will continue the story of secret agent Ethan Hunt, as played by Tom Cruise. Mission: Impossible IV is being written by the team of Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec, who do not have any film credits, but have written several episodes of the TV shows Alias, October Road, Life on Mars and the currently airing Happy Town. Paramount has also moved the release date, from May 27, 2011 to December 16, 2011.
The Power of the Dark Crystal, the long-in-development sequel to 1982’s The Dark Crystal, took a step closer to production with the hiring of horror directors Michael and Peter Spierig (Daybreakers, Undead). The Dark Crystal was directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, and used puppetry to create an original fantasy world and mythology that was much darker in tone and style than The Muppet Show. Central to The Dark Crystal were the conflicts between two bird-like races (the Skeksis and the Mystics) and the smaller elf-like Gelflings. Set hundreds of years after The Dark Crystal, this sequel will tell the story of a mysterious girl made of fire who teams up a Gelfling to steal a shard of the Dark Crystal in an attempt to reignite their world’s dying sun. The Jim Henson Company is coproducing The Power of the Dark Crystal with an Australian company, and will combine puppetry, animatronics and motion capture CGI to update the visuals of the Dark Crystal world for a more modern cinematic experience (and they’re going to film it in 3D too).
New Line Cinema has hired screenwriter Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center) to write Straight Outta Compton, a biopic about the influential and controversial 1980s rap group N.W.A. The five members of N.W.A. included Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, and the group’s eventual breakup led to a feud between those three rappers, inspiring songs like Dre’s “Dre Day,” which also helped launch the career of Snoop Dogg. The movie is named after N.W.A.’s second album which was a huge hit, helped popularize the “gangsta rap” genre and included the controversial song “F*** Tha Police.” After N.W.A., Ice Cube had a successful solo career and eventually became a movie actor, starring in hits like the Friday and Barbershop movies. Dr. Dre cofounded Death Row Records with Suge Knight, and has had a very successful career as a solo artist and record producer. Eazy-E’s solo career started while still in N.W.A., but after their breakup, his career slided and he died in 1995 from AIDS complications. The other two members, DJ Yella and MC Ren, also had solo careers but were less successful. The producers of Straight Outta Compton include Ice Cube and Eazy-E’s widow, Tomica Woods. The hiring of Andrea Berloff to write the N.W.A. biopic is being referred to as part of a trend of white writers tackling black biopics, with the Rick James biopic (Super Freak) and the upcoming Richard Pryor biopic also being written by white writers.
Director Rob Minkoff (The Forbidden Kingdom, the Stuart Little movies) will be returning to China with Chinese Odyssey, a supernatural high-seas adventure. Chinese Odyssey is an international production between Minkoff’s new Tiger 62 Media company, China Film Group and Beijing Galloping Horse Film & TV. Minkoff says that Chinese Odyssey is “a story involving ancient mysteries, deadly sea monsters, great characters and larger-than-life adventures.” Although the title suggests a reference to Homer’s The Odyssey, Minkoff’s film will actually tell the story of a hero “very familiar to Asian audiences,” but who that hero is currently unknown. Chinese Odyssey will film primarily on location in China (in English and in 3D), and is being described as the largest major feature film developed with Chinese financing.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is in the midst of returning to the action genre after a string of family-friendly movies (The Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain, Tooth Fairy). This summer, Johnson appears in The Other Guys with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, and he’s also got Faster coming out in November. That last movie’s title will seem like a precursor to the latest news, as Dwayne Johnson is reportedly in talks with Universal Pictures to costar in Fast Five, the next movie in their Fast and the Furious franchise. The premise of Fast Five sees Vin Diesel and Paul Walker’s characters on the run from the law, and Johnson is expected to be playing the leader of the law enforcement officers chasing them. So, Dwayne Johnson could basically be in talks to play a character in the vein of Buford T. Justice or Roscoe P. Coltrane. Fast Five will be directed by Justin Lin and written by Chris Morgan, both of who also worked together on The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and last year’s Fast & Furious. Universal has scheduled Fast Five for a June 10, 2011 release. This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because the RT scores for the three sequels have all been decidedly Rotten, and so it seems likely that this fifth movie will be as well. Having said that, it is good to see Dwayne Johnson making more movies that better match his talents as an action movie star.
20th Century Fox keeps making Ice Age movies, and parents keep taking their kids to them, so this news should come as little surprise. Fox and Blue Sky Studios have announced a July 13, 2012 release date for Ice Age: Continental Drift. That puts this fourth Ice Age movie right in between two big superhero movies: Sony’s Spider-Man reboot on July 3 and Christopher Nolan’s third Batman movie on July 20, 2012. Each new Ice Age movie has done better than the previous movies ($383 million, $655 million and then $884 million worldwide). So, that is the obvious reason that 20th Century Fox is greenlighting a fourth movie. No writer, director or premise has been announced yet, but it will of course be in 3D. Since this is the fourth movie, someone at Fox should notice that 3D movies actually attempt to recreate not 3 but 4 dimensions (the fourth one being time). That was a joke, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all if someone didn’t eventually start touting their 3D movies as 4D on that grounds. No cast has been officially announced yet, but it would seem likely that Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah and most of the rest would be likely to return for this fourth movie. This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas, because although Ice Age was critically well-received, the RT scores of the sequels have had Rotten scores with 58% for Ice Age: The Meltdown and 45% for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
Mark Wahlberg starred in Boogie Nights as fictional 1970s porn star Dirk Diggler, and Val Kilmer starred in Wonderland as 1970s porn star John Holmes. Now, Lindsay Lohan has signed on for a role that takes the “1970s porn star” mini-genre to the other gender, as Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace. Inferno is an independent production about the life of Linda Lovelace, who later claimed she had been forced into her porn star career. After problems with substance abuse, Lovelace (AKA Linda Boreman) eventually dropped out of the porn business and became an anti-pornographer crusader, eventually dying after a car crash in 2002. Lindsay Lohan was not the first actress to be mentioned for the role of Linda Lovelace, following earlier reports that Anna Faris and Rose McGowan were also considering the role. Bill Pullman (Spaceballs, Independence Day) has also been cast as Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Inferno will be directed by Matthew Wilder, who made his feature debut in 2008 with the independent film Your Name Here, which also starred Bill Pullman. Inferno is also not to be confused with another Linda Lovelace biopic project, Lovelace, which was announced in 2005 with Courtney Love playing Lovelace, but that project never came together. Inferno is this week’s most Rotten Idea because it seems like a classic example of stunt casting, designed to take advantage of Lohan’s reputation as a party girl with her own history of substance abuse. It’s possible that Inferno might actually end up being a great film, but Lohan’s track record suggests otherwise.