For his ninth film, next year’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (8/9/19), Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained) appears to going “all in” on paying homage to the film industry that shaped his youth as a fan. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set in Los Angeles in 1969 with the Manson Family (and their victims) as supporting characters, and the two leads are a TV actor (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double friend (played by Brad Pitt). The movie got a few more stars this week, with the biggest being Al Pacino, who will be working with Tarantino for the first time, as DiCaprio’s character’s agent. Other actors joining the ensemble cast this week as real historical characters include Dakota Fanning (as Manson follower Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme), Damian Lewis (from TV’s Homeland, as famous actor Steve McQueen), and Emile Hirsch as massacre victim Jay Sebring. They’ll also be joined by Luke Perry, Clifton Collins, Jr, Keith Jefferson, and Nicholas Hammond, along with previously announced actors like Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Michael Madsen, Timothy Olyphant, Burt Reynolds, and Tim Roth. Check out this photo gallery at The Wrap to see side-by-side comparisons between the cast of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and their real-life counterparts.
We first heard in December that Star Wars: The Last Jedi star Oscar Isaac was likely to voice Gomez Addams in next year’s animated reboot of The Addams Family. At that point, however, we lacked the names of the other cast members. This week, MGM unveiled that voice cast, and there are definitely a few fan favorites involved. The animated hand that Oscar Isaac’s Gomez will be kissing will be Charlize Theron’s, who is now signed to voice Morticia Addams. Their kids Wednesday and Pugsley will be voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things). Nick Kroll will voice Uncle Fester, Bette Midler will voice Grandmama, and the family’s archnemesis Margaux Needler will be voiced by Allison Janney. MGM has scheduled The Addams Family for October 11, 2019, up against the novel adaptation The Goldfinch, and Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? You can see the first concept art for The Addams Family by following this link to Collider.
Reese Witherspoon’s 2001 law school comedy Legally Blonde was a surprise hit, earning $141 million globally from a budget of just $18 million. That movie also had a Fresh Tomatometer score of 68%. Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, which came out 15 years ago and earned just a 37% on the Tomatometer, seemed to be the end of Elle Woods’ big screen adventures. Since then, however, the film has also become a hit broadway musical, which ostensibly buoyed the cultural significance of Reese Witherspoon’s movies. That may be part of the justification for this week’s news that MGM is in negotiations with Witherspoon for her to star in Legally Blonde 3. (You can read some of her thoughts on Legally Blonde 3 here as well.) MGM appears to be fast-tracking Legally Blonde 3, as the studio has already set a release date of Valentine’s Day, 2020, up against two mystery projects from Disney and WB/DC. In somewhat related news, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In the Heights is now scheduled for release on June 26, 2020.
The short life of 1930s-1950s jazz singer Billie Holiday (1915-1959) has inspired many books, homages, and a film biopic (1972’s Lady Sings the Blues), as well as the stage musical Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. Billie Holiday had a distinctive vocal style which added to her legacy, even as it was cut short by drug and alcohol abuse (her death at the age of 44 was related to cirrhosis of the liver). Although Lady Sings the Blues received 5 nominations, it didn’t score any wins (losing mostly to either The Godfather or Cabaret). Director Lee Daniels (Precious, Lee Daniels’ The Butler) is now in talks to develop a new Billie Holiday biopic called Billie, based on a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Suzan Lori-Parks. If the project gets going soon, singer/songwriter Andra Day (“Rise Up”) is being eyed to star as Billie. In related news, the long-in-development Bob Marley biopic is now being developed by his son Ziggy Marley and is set up at Paramount Pictures.
We reported above that Reese Witherspoon is looking to return to Legally Blonde after 15 years, and another movie that’s getting a sequel after an even longer hiatus (by twice as many years) is Top Gun. Tom Cruise just took to Twitter last week to announce that filming had started on Top Gun: Maverick. We can also now report that Val Kilmer will be returning as his “Iceman” character in the sequel. It’s unclear, however, what Val Kilmer’s participation will involve, as the actor is known to still be recovering from a bout with throat cancer. (In other words, don’t necessarily expect to see Kilmer joining Cruise in any of his signature dangerous stunt scenes.) Paramount Pictures has scheduled Top Gun: Maverick for release next year on July 12, 2019, the week before Disney’s remake of The Lion King.
In October of 2016, we reported that Warner Bros had acquired the rights to all of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka intellectual properties, with an eye toward rebooting the franchise with a movie about the younger Wonka’s adventures. A year and a half later, the project has apparently made its way far enough through development that Warner Bros. now has a shortlist of potential stars for the project. The three actors whose names were leaked this week are all quite different, and maybe that’s the point. Let’s start with Ryan Gosling, who is coming off last year’s Blade Runner 2049, and next has the NASA true story First Man (expect the trailer this week) on 10/12/18. Next up is Ezra Miller, the youngest of the three, who played the Flash in last year’s Justice League. Finally, there’s Donald Glover of Community, Atlanta, and Childish Gambino fame, who is currently in theaters in another prequel, Solo: A Star Wars Story, playing the young Lando Calrissian. Which actor do you think should be the young Willy Wonka, or perhaps a better question is, should there even be a Willy Wonka prequel at all? Director Paul King scored a rare 100% on the Tomatometer earlier this year with Paddington 2, which is now officially the film with the most reviews to achieve a 100% score, but we’re still calling this idea of a Willy Wonka reboot something of a potential stinker.
For those keeping track at home, we now have at least five “cinematic universes” based on comic books in various stages of development or production. Those include two based on Marvel Comics (with Fox’s X-Men franchise still outside Marvel Studios), Warner Bros’ DC Comics films, the plans for Valiant Comics adaptations, and Paramount’s Hasbro properties, which might be based on comic book stories as well. This week, we learned that director Matthew Vaughn has set up a production company called Marv Studios under his Marv Films label, with which he plans on producing his own line of comic book adaptations. A central project to that goal is a reboot of Kick-Ass, possibly focusing on the character of Patience Lee, an “African-American single mother who assumes the vigilante mantle in Mark Millar’s comics.” Matthew Vaughn also hopes to reboot Hit Girl (possibly without Chloe Grace Moretz), and to also continue making more Kingsman movies starring Taron Egerton. Kick-Ass 2 received a Rotten score of just 33%; can a Kick-Ass reboot do better with critics?
The 1975 blaxploitation film Dolemite has not aged well, but in its time, it was a relative box office smash, earning $12 million (in 1975 dollars) from a budget of just $100,000. The success of Dolemite (and its sequels) was likely due in great part to the popularity of its star, comedian and singer Rudy Ray Moore, who adopted the Dolemite pimp character off screen as well. Netflix has consistently become a refuge and career restarter for a wide variety of stars, and one such actor looking for a bump from the streaming giant is Eddie Murphy, who’s only had one lead role in the last six years (2016’s Mr. Church). Murphy is aligning with Netflix on their Rudy Ray Moore biopic called Dolemite is My Name. The 1970s-set comedy biopic will be directed by Craig Brewer, whose first film Hustle & Flow was itself influenced by the 1970s and early rap. Here is the R-rated trailer for Rudy Ray Moore’s original Dolemite, so you can get an idea of what Eddie Murphy’s taking on (Shrek, this is not).
As the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men in Hollywood emerged last year as part of the #metoo movement, writers speculated that we’d eventually some of those stories adapted into movies. And it’s all happening pretty quickly, too, starting with the news in April that Brad Pitt was co-producing a movie about the two female New York Times reporters who ran one of the earliest stories about the Weinstein allegations. Some of these movies, however, will be fictional, and one such project is being developed by director Brian DePalma (Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables). DePalma describes his project, called Predator (not to be confused with the alien/sci-fi franchise), as a horror film about a sexual predator in the film industry (who isn’t named Harvey Weinstein, but…). In somewhat related news, director/producer Brett Ratner, who was himself the focus of several allegations last year, is reportedly still telling people that he’s directing Rush Hour 4, but sources at Warner Bros describe such a project as being a “suicide mission.”
It’s getting trickier and trickier to keep up with all of the various projects Warner Bros. and DC Comics have in development, frequently with the same characters. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad, for example, has been attached to Suicide Squad 2, Gotham City Sirens, Birds of Prey, a possible solo Harley Quinn movie, and maybe a Joker/Harley movie on top of that. Of course, we can all guess that many of these projects won’t get made (right now, Birds of Prey may happen first). Something similar has been going on with the Joker, with news in the last several months about different projects, including an origin story from director Todd Phillips (The Hangover) (with Joaquin Phoenix rumored to be considered for the role). But what about the actor who’s most recently played the Joker, Jared Leto? It was confirmed this week that, yes, a solo movie for Jared Leto’s tattooed take on the Joker is indeed still in development, as well as a Joker origin story movie. We’re calling Jared Leto’s The Joker a “Rotten Idea” based on the 27% Tomatometer score Suicide Squad recevied in 2016, which is doubled with the late-breaking news that Warner Bros is still developing the screenplay for a team sequel for Suicide Squad 2.