This Week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Borat 2, Freaky, and He’s All That.
(Photo by ©20th Century Fox courtesy Everett Collection)
Most of the film industry operates according to a well-publicized pipeline of long-term development deals, casting announcements, and release dates, often months or years in advance. Because of that, it’s rare that a movie can be filmed in any sort of cloud of secrecy, though it has happened, even for sequels to major box office hits. The latter scenario is particularly relevant this week, as it has been revealed that British comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen has apparently “secretly” filmed a sequel to his 2006 hit comedy Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan ( Certified Fresh at 91% ), which earned over a quarter of a billion dollars worldwide from a budget of just $18 million. Social media reports earlier this summer first hinted that Cohen was up to something with his Borat character, and reportedly, Cohen has already started screening the sequel for industry insiders. Although there has been no official announcement just yet, the rumor is that in the sequel, Borat is now world famous, so he has to go undercover as other characters, which means the comedy is basically Cohen-as-Borat-as-Cohen’s other characters. The Borat sequel does not currently have an official distributor (so we don’t know if it will be theatrical, streaming, or otherwise), and therefore, there’s also no release date. We also don’t know if Sacha Baron Cohen will have any celebrity co-stars in the sequel.
(Photo by Getty Images)
It has now been five years since the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag first became viral. Since then, the Academy has gone through a series of moves to increase diversity, which has included inviting new members who as a group have more diverse backgrounds. This week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled their next change, which is a set of rules for the Best Picture category that will take effect in 2024. As of that year, a feature film will need to meet qualification in two of the following four categories: #1 On-Screen Representation, Themes and Narratives; #2 Creative Leadership and Project Team; #3 Industry Access and Opportunities; and #4 Audience Development. Broadly, the first two criteria apply to the actual film, and the second two can be met by the studio or production company that make the movie. There has been some concern online that recent nominees like The Irishman or 1917 might have been challenged by these new rules, but in both cases (and many others), it’s likely that the studios would have qualified under the third or fourth categories (especially by 2024). It’s also important to point out that these criteria only apply to Best Picture, so a film could potentially be nominated in other categories without matching these specific new rules. Also this week, a recent study of the top box office hits from the last few years reportedly shows that straight, white men still dominate the film industry.
(Photo by Warner Bros.)
The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously delayed almost all feature films that were scheduled for release in the summer of 2020 (which had a domino effect through the rest of the ear). One of those films was Wonder Woman 1984, starring Gal Gadot, which had already been rescheduled months before the pandemic even began. The film was first announced for two different dates in late 2019 (December 13 and then November 1), before being delayed six months to June 5, 2020. The pandemic pushed that date first to August 14, 2020 and then most recently to October 2, 2020. Finally and most recently, Warner Bros announced that Wonder Woman 1984 will now come out theatrically on December 25, 2020, just a week after Dune (also distributed by Warner Bros.) comes out on December 18, 2020. Although there was some speculation that the move was a reaction to the disappointing box office of Tenet, an inside source told Collider that it was not a factor in their decision. Instead, Warner Bros. appears to be reacting to about 35% of the screens in the United States still being closed. Other movies currently scheduled for late December, 2020 include the comedy sequels Coming 2 America and The Croods: A New Age, and Stephen Spielberg’s West Side Story remake. Additionally, the Jordan Peele-produced horror reboot Candyman announced late on Friday afternoon that it will also abandon its October release date (on the 16th, to be specific) and instead opt to open in 2021, though a new date has not been set.
(Photo by Phil Bray/©Dimension Films courtesy Everett Collection)
Soon after we learned that the creative team behind last year’s Ready or Not (Certified Fresh at 88%) would be taking on the long-in-development horror sequel Scream 5, one of the first names to be mentioned was Neve Campbell as franchise regular Sidney Prescott. Although both David Arquette and Courteney Cox were also announced earlier this year as returning, both times, Campbell was described as still being in talks, which led some to question whether she would return at all. After all of that trepidation, Spyglass and Paramount did announce yesterday that Neve Campbell is indeed signed to return as Sidney Prescott in Scream 5. Campbell, Cox, and Arquette will be joined by several franchise newcomers, including Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Kyle Gallner, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison, Dylan Minnette, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, and Marley Shelton. Savvy horror fans can probably already start guessing who among the young ensemble cast will be the film’s victims, the new “final girl” (or boy), the Ghostface Killer, and probably one or two red herrings as well. Because, twists. Scream 5 is currently scheduled for release on January 14, 2022.
(Photo by Giles Keyte/Focus Features)
As the world honors the tragedy of 9/11 on this 19th anniversary, one might remember that it led to a wave of film and TV projects that collectively are now called “post-9/11.” Coincidentally, we are absolutely in the middle of seeing the same thing happening with the COVID-19 pandemic, with the horror film Host (Fresh at 100%) and Michael Bay’s upcoming film Songbird, which was one of the first films to return to production this year. Director Doug Liman made the news earlier this year, as he will be reuniting with his Edge of Tomorrow star Tom Cruise for what promises to be the first feature film actually filmed (partially) in outer space, but before that happens, Liman is now set to direct Anne Hathaway in a low budget (less than $10 million) heist movie/romantic comedy called Lockdown, to start filming in London later this month. No premise has been announced yet, but one has to assume from its title that it probably involves a heist during the pandemic. Just a hunch.
(Photo by Kristin Callahan/Everett Collection)
It will be a few years (at least) before we ever see the results of this year’s announcement that Booksmart (Certified Fresh at 96%) director Olivia Wilde will be directing a Marvel movie for Sony (speculated to be Spider-Woman), but in the meantime, Wilde is keeping the scope of her second film closer to the real world, or at least a version of the 1950s. Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Black Widow) will star in Don’t Worry, Darling as a 1950s “unhappy housewife who slowly begins to question her own sanity when she starts to notice strange occurrences in her small, utopian community in the California desert.” Her husband was to have been played by Shia LaBeouf, who had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, so her character’s husband will be played by Harry Styles instead. In addition to co-starring in Dunkirk, Styles has been eyeing several roles in the last few years (including Disney’s The Little Mermaid), but it appears that Don’t Worry, Darling will succeed in wooing him. The film’s other co-stars will include Dakota Johnson, Chris Pine, and Wilde herself.
(Photo by Miramax)
Nowadays, Rachael Leigh Cook mostly stays busy with her Vineyard movies on the Hallmark Channel, but in the 1990s and early 2000s, she was one of the most successful young female movie stars, and one of her most recognized roles came in the 1999 hit She’s All That (Rotten at 41%), co-starring Freddie Prinze Jr. It was basically a Pygmalion or My Fair Lady “ugly duckling” story as a teen rom-com, but that combination proved a successful one. Director Mark Waters (Mean Girls, Freaky Friday) is getting ready to film a gender-reversed remake called He’s All That, and TikTok star Addison Rae Easterling will take on what is basically the female version of Prinze’s character, as she will be attempting to turn one of her nerdy boy classmates into the school’s next prom king. Presumably, the title character will be cast soon, and we can probably expect that some of the parents or teachers will be played by comedy vets (a guess just based on Waters’ other films).
(Photo by Universal Pictures)
One of the weird things about title trademarks is that sometimes they can be applied very broadly, while other times, they are pretty specific. For example, although Walt Disney Pictures absolutely owns the Freaky Friday body-swapping franchise (whether it be Hayley Mills or Lindsay Lohan), they don’t own the exclusive rights to the word “Freaky” (or for that matter, “Friday”). So, Universal Pictures and the director of Happy Death Day were able to team up for a body-swapping comedy called Freaky (11/13/2020), which effectively reads as a dark take on Freaky Friday without actually being directly related to it. The twist in Freaky is that instead of mother and daughter, the body swapped pair are a serial killer (Vince Vaughn) and one of his intended victims (Kathryn Newton). The result we seem to see in the first trailer is a serial killer comedy that also sort of brings to mind Rob Schneider’s The Hot Chick.
(Photo by Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)
Hollywood loves making sequels to 1980s movies almost as it loves remaking 1980s movies. They do, however, have an inherent problem, as there were only so many movies actually made in the 1980s that are available for sequels or remakes. One has to guess that’s the best possible explanation for the news this week that someone is now actively developing a sequel to the 1989 Shelley Long kids comedy Troop Beverly Hills (Rotten at 25%). Basically, Shelley Long played a rich lady who decides to become the troop leader of a fictionalized Girl-Scouts-But-We-Can’t-Call-Them-Girl-Scouts to show that she is a capable adult. Israeli director Oran Zegman will direct the Troop Beverly Hills sequel from a screenplay by television writer Aeysha Carr (Born Again Virgin, Everybody Hates Chris) and Tamara Chestna, who adapted last year’s After (Rotten at 19%), and speaking of which…
(Photo by Quantrell D. Colbert/©Aviron Pictures)
One of the most lucrative movie trends of the 2010s decades was the “young adult franchise,” during which every studio did their best to imitate the success of the Harry Potter franchise. Part of the reason why these movies were so profitable was that they could be produced affordably, but that also led to a glut in the marketplace, which possibly combined with audience preference shifts meant that within a decade, the trend was on its last legs. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still young adult movies being made (especially on Netflix now), and one such film was last year’s After (Rotten at 19%), based on the 2014 novel that reportedly began as a fan-fiction novel inspired by the music of Harry Styles and One Direction. The sequel After We Collided only just this week got picked up for distribution on PVOD on October 23, 2020, but already the producers are also developing two more sequels: After We Fell and After Ever After. Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin are expected to reprise their roles in all of them.