This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering new titles such as Jak & Daxter, Kraven the Hunter, and The Smurfs.
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One of the perhaps most understandably confusing things about the 2019 racing drama Ford v Ferrari (Certified Fresh at 92%) was that, early on, the title led many writers and fans to presume that actors like Christian Bale and Matt Damon would be playing characters named Ford or Ferrari. Italian automotive company founder Enzo Ferrari does have a small role in that film (mostly glowering from the stands), played by veteran Italian actor Remo Girone, but fans wanting a full Enzo Ferrari story are now a little closer to getting exactly that. Fresh off not one but two 2021 historical dramas directed by Ridley Scott (The Last Duel and House of Gucci), Adam Driver is now attached to star in director Michael Mann’s long-in-development biopic Ferrari as Enzo Ferrari. Penelope Cruz, who just earned an Oscar nod for her work in Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers (Certified Fresh at 97%), and Shailene Woodley have also signed on as Enzo’s wife Laura and his mistress Lina Lardi, respectively. Driver is also replacing Hugh Jackman, who had been announced for the title role in June, 2020. When it does finally start filming, Ferrari will end a directing drought for Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider), whose last film as director was Blackhat (Rotten at 32%) seven years ago in 2015.
(Photo by Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Everything is cyclical in Hollywood, and as new trends take off, old favorites are revived every ten years or so. Superhero movies, for example, have gone from being a once-a-decade fluke (there were 12 years between the first color Batman in 1966 and Superman: The Movie in 1978) to there being almost one a month in 2022. Then there is the video game adaptation, that shaggy dog field that didn’t even have a single Fresh Tomatometer score until Pokémon Detective Pikachu (Fresh at 68%) in 2019. Hollywood is newly invested in video game movies, with 2022 alone giving us Uncharted (2/18/2022), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (4/8/2022), Super Mario Bros: The Movie (12/21/2022), and possibly Borderlands (date to be announced). The latest popular video game property to make the platforming jump to the big screen is the science fiction buddy action franchise Jak and Daxter, which made the news in something of a one-two punch on consecutive days. It started on Tuesday when Tom Holland, out promoting Uncharted (currently Rotten at 41%) quipped, “I would like to make a Jak and Daxter movie, and I would play Jak. I would make it at A24, so it was really weird and like dark.” Holland may or may not have known more than he let on, because on Wednesday, Uncharted director Ruben Fleischer, who also directed Venom (Rotten at 30%) and Zombieland (Certified Fresh at 89%) confirmed that he is indeed actively developing a Jak and Daxter movie. No other details, such as whether it would be live action or animated, are known yet. As for Tom Holland’s A24 idea (the indie home of horror films like Midsommar and The Witch), well, Jak and Daxter is a Sony exclusive franchise, so it’s it’s unlikely the film will be produced by some other studio.
(Photo by ©Universal Pictures)
As the various cinematic universes (superhero and otherwise) grow larger, it has become increasingly common for actors to “double-dip,” so to speak. The most famous (and one of the earliest) examples of this was when Chris Evans went from playing Marvel’s Human Torch in the first two Fantastic Four movies — Marvel properties brought to the big screen by Fox — to playing the MCU’s Captain America. Russell Crowe, who attempted to help kick-start Universal’s Dark Universe when he co-starred in 2017’s The Mummy, has a supporting role in this year’s Thor: Love and Thunder (7/8/2022), and now he’s joining a completely different movie based on Marvel Comics characters. Crowe is the second cast member to join Sony’s Kraven the Hunter, based on the long-running Spider-Man villain (since 1964). In another example of double dipping, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who played Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron (Certified Fresh at 76%), has been on board for a while to star as Kraven the Hunter. The nature of Russell Crowe’s role hasn’t been disclosed yet, but much of the cast will reportedly be members of Kraven’s family, so that might be the case with Crowe. As his name suggests, Kraven the Hunter considers himself the world’s greatest hunter, and in the comics, Spider-Man is often the target of his hunt (even if that may not be the case in this first film). Sony Pictures has already scheduled Kraven the Hunter, which will be directed by J.C. Chandor (All is Lost, A Most Violent Year), for release next year on January 13, 2023.
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Thanks in part to the success of the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody (Fresh at 60%, with nearly a billion dollars in global box office returns), the musical biopic has enjoyed something of a revival in the past few years. In addition to upcoming movies like Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis (6/24/2022) and the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody (12/23/2022), we also have films being developed for the Bee Gees, Cher, and Madonna. We can now add to the list reggae superstar Bob Marley, whose life story rights have been sought after in Hollywood since at least the 1990s. The Paramount Pictures film doesn’t have a title yet, but it does now have a star, as the role of Bob Marley has gone to Kingsley Ben-Adir, who co-starred in last year’s One Night in Miami (Certified Fresh at 98%) as Malcolm X. The untitled Bob Marley biopic will be directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, whose tennis biopic King Richard (Certified Fresh at 90%) is currently nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film’s producers also include Bob’s wife Rita Marley and two of his children, Ziggy Marley and Cedella Marley. It is expected that the film’s soundtrack is cleared to include most (though possibly not all) of Bob Marley’s biggest hits, including “Buffalo Soldier,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” “Jammin’,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “One Love,” and “Redemption Song.”
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Even before Call Me By Your Name (Certified Fresh at 94%) came out in 2017 (and was eventually nominated for four Academy Awards), director Luca Guadagnino was talking about his eventual plans for a sequel, possibly to be made in 2020 (which obviously didn’t happen), and probably reuniting its stars Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer (another thing that might not happen). The delays in making that sequel made apparently haven’t slowed down Guadagnino otherwise, as he is currently in post-production on a cannibalism drama called Bones and All and is already moving on to a romantic tennis drama for MGM called Challengers. The stars of Challengers will include Zendaya (whose recent roles include both Spider-Man: No Way Home and HBO Max’s Euphoria), Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles in Netflix’s The Crown), and Mike Faist, who plays the key role of Riff in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. Zendaya will play a tennis player-turned-coach who has transformed her husband (Faist) into a famous world champion, who finds himself having to compete in a “Challenger” event against a much lower ranked player who also happens to be his wife’s ex-boyfriend. Challengers first came to notice as one of the screenplays featured on the 2021 Black List of Unproduced Screenplays.
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We’ve known for a while that Sony Pictures was actively filming an adaptation of the 1965 children’s book Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, including the news of the cast featuring actors like Javier Bardem (currently Academy Award nominated for Being the Ricardos), Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians), and child actor Winslow Fegley (8-Bit Christmas). It’s this week’s news, however, that finally gives us a much better idea of what sort of movie Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile might be, as the lead role has been landed by Canadian pop singer Shawn Mendes. The film is now being described as a full-on movie musical with Lyle himself being a computer animated character. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile is being directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon, who previously co-directed Office Christmas Party (Rotten at 41%), and it will be Shawn Mendes’ first role in a film produced and released by a major film studio when it’s released later this year on November 18, 2022.
(Photo by Maria Marin/©Sony Classics)
A surprising amount has been written about how Leslie Nielsen successfully adapted to comedy in films like Airplane! (Certified Fresh at 97%) and The Naked Gun (Certified Fresh at 88%) by essentially playing it all straight. In setting out to reboot The Naked Gun, producer Seth McFarlane apparently knew that the trick might be to find another actor not known for comedy as his new Detective Frank Drebin, and we know that because the actor in question revealed the project himself this week. Speaking to People, Liam Neeson revealed that he has started negotiations with producer (and possibly director) McFarlane and Paramount Studios to revive The Naked Gun in what appears to be, based on Neeson’s phrasing, a new movie reboot (and not, say, a reboot of the TV show Police Squad, which originally spawned the later films).
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One of the most surprising stories of 2021 came in August, when it was revealed that Viacom and Paramount+ had inked a deal worth almost a billion dollars with South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker to produce a total of 14 South Park movies for Paramount+ (two of which have by this point already aired). That deal was a demonstration that Paramount is willing to make big deals for either establishing or cementing franchises both for its theatrical brand and its growing Paramount+ streaming service. Another brand got a similar endorsement from the studio this week, as Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Animation are now actively developing at least four upcoming movies based on the popular Belgian characters The Smurfs. There have been multiple Smurfs movies in the past, but to date, the highest Tomatometer any of them has scored is the 40% score of 2017’s Smurfs: The Lost Village. The first film to be released under this new deal is expected to be a full animated movie musical to be released on December 20, 2024, and to be written by Pam Brady in her solo feature film debut after being a long time collaborator with Parker and Stone on projects like South Park and Team America: World Police ( Certified Fresh at 77%).
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In addition to her prolific career as an actress in film and television, Zooey Deschanel also has a musical career as one half of the duo She & Him. Besides her role as Bridget in the Trolls movies, though, her film roles have not required her to do a whole lot of singing. It’s not yet known if that will change with her latest role (though it’s being produced concurrently with Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, which we now know to be a musical), but Deschanel has signed on to join the cast of another Sony adaptation of a classic children’s book, Harold and the Purple Crayon. Deschaenl will play the title character’s mom, joining a cast that already includes Zachary Levi (Shazam!) and Lil Rel Howery (Get Out). Harold and the Purple Crayon will be directed as a live-action adaptation by Carlos Saldanha (Robots, Rio), who received an Academy Award nomination for the 2017 film Ferdinand (Fresh at 72%).
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Up above, we reported on the casting of Kingsley Ben-Adir in the long-in-development Bob Marley biopic. Well, there’s also now a biopic about the life of Michael Jackson in development at Lionsgate, titled, appropriately, just Michael. Michael Jackson had a decades-long musical career that started in the early 1970s with his brothers in the Jackson Five and led to worldwide success and fame. Michael is being produced in cooperation with the Michael Jackson estate, so it is expected that the film will focus on his musical career. The film is also being produced for Lionsgate by Graham King, who also produced the 2018 Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s also worth noting that director Taika Waititi had at one time been developing a movie for Netflix about the life of Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee, Bubbles, but that film was eventually scrapped at some point before 2019.