Today’s Ketchup brings you ten headlines from the world of film development news, covering titles such as Breaking Bad, The Color Purple, Paddington 3, and the Shrek reboot.
One of the recurring themes throughout 2018 has been about Emmy-winning TV dramas getting their own movies. The Downton Abbey movie is currently filming, and this week production began on the Deadwood movie, with pretty much the entire cast returning. (Farther down the road is The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel to HBO’s The Sopranos, which was announced in March.) The Sopranos won an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series, and Deadwood and Downton Abbey were both nominated in that category (and won in others). Breaking Bad also won in that category twice, and this week we learned that filming is about to begin on a movie that will be a direct sequel to the events of the series finale episode. Breaking Bad executive producer Vince Gilligan wrote the movie, which is listed as starting production in New Mexico in mid-November under the working title Greenbriar. Aaron Paul will be returning as Jesse Pinkman in the film, described as “the escape of a kidnapped man and his quest for freedom.” When we last saw Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad, he had been kidnapped by a Neo-Nazi gang and had just begun his escape from them. It’s not yet known if the Breaking Bad movie is being made to air on AMC, or if it will receive a theatrical release. It’s also not known which other Breaking Bad cast members might return.
The British family film sequel Paddington 2 has now been on video around the world since April, and it still maintains its Certified Fresh 100% Tomatometer score. (Paddington 2 was also a global box office phenomenon, earning $226 million from a budget of just $40 million.) The next step in the Paddington franchise is therefore perhaps not surprising, but yes, Paddington 3 is now in early development. The director of the first two films, Paul King, is now attached to both a live-action Pinocchio movie for Disney and a Willy Wonka prequel for Warner Bros., both of which came to his door following his work on Paddington and Paddington 2. So it’s looking like King will not return for Paddington 3, according to the franchise’s producer David Heyman. Of course, plenty could still change, as Paddington 3 also doesn’t have a screenplay yet. Ben Whishaw, the voice of Paddington, will next co-star as the adult Michael Banks in next month’s Mary Poppins Returns (12/19/18).
Steven Spielberg is currently preparing his next film as director, which will be a remake of the 1961 movie musical classic West Side Story. As it turns out, however, West Side Story won’t be the only musical remake on his agenda, as he and Oprah Winfrey are reuniting on another. In 1985, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah Winfrey co-starred in The Color Purple (Fresh at 85%), based on the novel by Alice Walker, and it was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. Spielberg, Winfrey, and Quincy Jones are collaborating on a musical remake of The Color Purple at Warner Bros., the studio behind another recent musical remake, A Star is Born. A musical adaptation of The Color Purple opened on Broadway in 2005 and earned 11 Tony nominations, and this movie will likely be a fairly direct adaptation of that musical.
When Universal Pictures acquired DreamWorks Animation in 2016, there was talk about the impact it would have on the Shrek franchise, but it wasn’t until this week that we first heard post-merger what exactly would happen. Both Shrek and its spinoff Puss in Boots are now being rebooted by Chris Meledandri, the producer behind such Illumination Entertainment films as Despicable Me, Sing, and The Secret Life of Pets. Although it’s being called a Shrek “reboot,” Melelandri reportedly wants to keep the franchise’s voice cast in place, including Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Antonio Banderas (though Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow weren’t mentioned). Meledandri’s next animated films will all be sequels: The Secret Life of Pets 2 (6/7/2019), Minions 2 (7/3/2020), and Sing 2 (12/25/2020), so the earliest we can probably expect the next Shrek movie would be sometime in 2021.
In the last few years, we’ve seen repeated instances of directors of popular animated movies inheriting ambitious live-action films. For example, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs‘ Phil Lord and Chris Miller were given the reins to the 21 Jump Street franchise, and The Incredibles‘ Brad Bird tackled Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Warner Bros. is keeping one of their animated hits more “in house” this week with the news that they have recruited director Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie) to work on their long-in-development adaptation of Jonny Quest. To give you an idea of exactly how long Jonny Quest has been in development, consider that there was a point where the star of Jonny Quest at one point was nearly Zac Efron (who is now 31 years old). Like many other long-in-development projects, the roots of Jonny Quest are very, very old, as the original animated TV series ran from 1964 to 1974. The show is so old, in fact, that viewers of a certain age might be more familiar with Venture Bros, the animated show that spoofed Jonny Quest, than they are with the original show itself. Warner Bros. reportedly is now looking for a major action movie star (someone like Vin Diesel or Dwayne Johnson) to play Race Bannon, Jonny’s secret-agent-turned-bodyguard.
If we spin back the clock about a year, few people outside of Marvel fans awaiting Black Panther were familiar with Letitia Wright. That, however, was before her role as T’Challa’s sister Shuri first in Black Panther and then Avengers: Infinity War established her as one of the year’s brightest breakout stars. The Guyanese-born British actress is now preparing to make a transition beyond Marvel with news this week of two promising projects. The first film we heard about is a remake of the 2017 French dramedy Le Brio, in which Wright will be joined by singer-turned-actor John Legend. Wright will play an immigrant “woman from an underprivileged neighborhood”, and Legend will play “a brilliant but prejudiced professor… who is forced to coach her for an annual speech contest.” Letitia Wright will also team up with Star Wars: The Last Jedi star John Boyega in a sci-fi love story called Hold Back the Stars. Their characters will “revisit memories of their love affair on a utopian Earth while they are trapped in the vast void of space with only 90 minutes of oxygen.”
There’s no shortage of historically significant figures who either have never had a movie made about them or could use a fresh update. Underground Railroad leader Harriet Tubman was one example, but she’s getting her own movie starring Tony winner Cynthia Erivo. Another African American leader who we don’t “know from the movies” is Frederick Douglass. Following the success this summer of his BlackKklansman, director Spike Lee is now preparing to adapt the one-man stage show Frederick Douglass Now, which will mark his third adaptation of a stage show by his Do the Right Thing star Roger Guenveur Smith. Netflix picked up Lee’s Rodney King, adapted from Guenveur Smith’s show, but it’s unclear where Frederick Douglass Now might end up, as Douglass himself obviously has a potentially wider appeal as a historical figure deserving of a major motion picture.
The Queen rock biopic Bohemian Rhapsody just opened last week, and although we can argue about how the film addressed Freddie Mercury’s death, the AIDS epidemic does loom large over Mercury’s death and legacy. Another entertainment icon who struggled with AIDS in the 1980s was movie star Rock Hudson, who for much of his career was much more “closeted” than Mercury. Universal Pictures is now preparing to adapt Hudson’s life story as a major motion picture with the news this week that the studio has optioned the book All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson by Mark Griffin. The plan at Universal is for the untitled Rock Hudson biopic to be directed by Greg Berlanti, who this year is coming off the gay coming-of-age drama Love Simon. Berlanti has also worked extensively on DC Comics TV shows like Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Titans.
Will Ferrell is preparing for the release of his latest comedy with John C. Reilly, which is their take on Sherlock Holmes called Holmes & Watson. As sometimes happens, Ferrell was featured in not one news story, but two separate projects. The first one we heard about is Downhill, which will be a remake of the Swedish film Force Majeure. Will Ferrell’s co-star will be Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and their directors will be Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (cowriters of The Descendants, and you may also know Rash as Dean Pelton from Community). Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfuss will play a married couple whose narrow survival of an avalanche forces them to re-evaluate their relationship. Will Ferrell will also team up with director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, My Own Private Idaho) for an adaptation of a GQ article called My Son, The Prince of Fashion, in which he will play a reporter who travels to Paris and discovers just how much his 13-year-old son loves the world of fashion.