Today’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news, covering titles such as Sesame Street, Shang-Chi, Snake Eyes, and sequels for Aquaman and Crazy Rich Asians.
The DC Comics movie Aquaman starring Jason Momoa is still two weeks away (12/21/18), and reviews for the film haven’t begun to come in yet. Even so, Warner Bros. must be fairly confident about the film’s prospects, because this week the news broke that the studio is already starting to think about Aquaman 2. The news started as a buried detail in an Amber Heard profile, but you can read a more detailed examination of the revelation right here. To be clear, the “details” aren’t really details at all, except that the currently projected $65 million opening for Aquaman gave Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich “enough confidence to begin talks on a sequel.” We can guess that means several Aquaman cast members would return (Jason Momoa and Amber Heard, at least), and then there would probably be new characters. But who? Aquaman does have a few supporting cast members who don’t appear to be in his first movie, with Garth, AKA Aqualad being perhaps the most obvious candidate. The introduction of Aqualad might also help Warner Bros. later on if they ever want to have a proper live action Teen Titans movie (which was sort of what Teen Titans Go! To the Movies was all about). After Aquaman, the next confirmed DC Comics movies are Shazam! (4/5/2019), Joker (10/4/2019), Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2/7/2020), and Wonder Woman 1984 (6/5/2020).
Over the last few weeks, we’ve started to hear about the impressive ensemble cast that director Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel) is (or might be) recruiting for his next film. The rumors and reports to date have included Brad Pitt, Natalie Portman, and Lea Seydoux (Spectre, The Lobster), and this week, five more names emerged. This latest story from Paris also gives us the title of the film, The French Dispatch, and a clarification that it is not a musical as previously reported. Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton are both frequent Anderson collaborators and Frances McDormand co-starred in Moonrise Kingdom, but Benicio del Toro, Jeffrey Wright, and Timothée Chalamet are all new additions to his repertory company. When asked at a party this week what The French Dispatch is actually about, Chalamet reportedly “threw his hands in the air and laughed.” Having said that, we do know that the film is “set in the 1950s and follows journalists at an American newspaper bureau in 1950s Paris.”
This past summer’s blockbuster comedy Crazy Rich Asians was an adaptation of a 2013 comic novel by Kevin Kwan, and it was the first of a trilogy, followed by China Rich Girlfriend in 2015 and Rich People Problems in 2017. That was excellent news for Warner Bros., who basically secured a franchise with Crazy Rich Asians’ success. Even before CRA came out, director Jon M. Chu had already been signed by Warner Bros. for their adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In the Heights (scheduled for 6/26/2020, up against Top Gun: Maverick), making the filming of any Crazy sequels in 2019 unlikely. Instead, the plan appears for both sequels to be filmed back-to-back, probably in 2020, for release dates in 2021 (and possibly 2022). The other challenge for an ambitious two-movie shoot (go ask Marvel) is getting all the cast scheduled, and Crazy Rich Asians had a large ensemble cast. As for what comes after In the Heights, China Rich Girlfriend, and Rich People Problems, Chu is also now developing Don’t Stop Believin‘ about Journey lead singer Arnel Pineda’s unlikely route to a dream rock star gig.
Brie Larson was very much in the spotlight this week with the launch of the second trailer for next year’s Captain Marvel (3/8/2019) (which has people asking all sorts of questions). As it often happens, however, there was actually another story about Larson’s career this week, as she is the latest actor to sign on for an ambitious project at Netflix. Brie Larson has signed to star in I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Netflix’s first film with writer/director Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa, Synecdoche New York). Based on a 2016 novel by Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things tells the story of a woman’s trip to a family farm that leads to an “an unexpected detour leaving her stranded, a twisted mix of palpable tension, psychological frailty and sheer terror ensues.” Jesse Plemons (of TV’s Breaking Bad and Fargo) also signed on this week as the film’s male lead. Going back to Captain Marvel, Marvel Studios also released the first teaser this week for Avengers: Endgame (4/26/2019), and we may be getting the first Spider-Man: Far From Home (7/5/2019) teaser this weekend (though how that fits in with Spidey’s current status is still anyone’s guess).
For the most part, Disney’s remakes of their animated classics are pretty straightforward (Dumbo is Dumbo, The Lion King is The Lion King, etc.), but then you have a movie like Maleficent, which took Sleeping Beauty and told its villain’s story instead. (Let’s note real quick here that Maleficent II recently wrapped filming and it’s scheduled for May 29, 2020.) Disney is going to do the same thing with their revisit to 101 Dalmatians by adapting it as Cruella, telling her “origin story” before she ever met all those black-and-white puppies. Emma Stone has been attached to play the young Cruella for a while, and this week, Disney found its director in the form of Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya, Lars and the Real Girl). Alex Timbers (of Amazon’s Mozart of the Jungle) had been attached, but had to drop out due to scheduling issues. Cruella doesn’t have a release date yet, but it’s most likely aimed at either late 2020 or sometime in 2021. Disney’s remake slate currently includes three confirmed for 2019 (Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King) and two for 2020 (Mulan, Maleficent II). Tom Hanks also started talking to Disney last week for Pinocchio, which is another possibility for 2020 or 2021.
One of the funniest parts of 22 Jump Street was actually the ending, which promised a long series of sequels with different themes starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum (Medical School, Foreign Exchange Students, Art School, etc). That was followed, for a while, by talk about Hill and Tatum starring in a 23 Jump Street which was also a new Men in Black movie, but those plans eventually fell apart, and Hill and Tatum are apparently done with the franchise now. Instead, in whatever form the third 21 Jump Street movie takes, the two cops-undercover-in-a-school will be women. Tiffany Haddish broke out after 2017’s Girls Trip, and Awkwafina co-starred this year in both Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians. If deals go through the way Sony hopes, it will be Haddish and Awkwafina who star in the next 21 Jump Street movie. Since she’s 39, you might think Tiffany Haddish would have a harder time passing as a student, and you would be right, as she’s reportedly in talks to play a cop undercover as a teacher, a mom, or maybe even both. In related news, the Men in Black spinoff now has a title, Men in Black International, which brings to mind the long-running DC Comics series Justice League International. This week, we also got our first image of Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in character, complete with fancy guns and “men in black” suits.
Next year will mark five years since Muppets Most Wanted, and since then we haven’t heard much about any new installments. Instead, the attention seems to be turning to Sesame Street, which continues to air on both PBS and HBO. Sesame Street is also sort of a thematic cousin of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which was the subject of this year’s hit documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? So, the time might be right for a different kind of Sesame Street movie. Warner Bros. is reportedly hoping to sign Anne Hathaway to star in their new Sesame Street movie, which will also be a musical. Of particular interest is the name of Hathaway’s character, which is Sally. Going all the way back to the original 1969 Sesame Street pilot episode, it was a little girl named Sally who Gordon Robinson first introduced to Sesame Street. (Anne Hathaway, born in 1982, is too young by about 15 years to have actually been in that 1969 episode.) Big Bird, Bert & Ernie, Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, The Count, Mister Snuffleupagus, and Zoe are all also likely to be in Sesame Street.
During his lifetime, Prince was famously super protective of both his music and legacy (Kevin Smith recounted his efforts to make a Prince documentary in An Evening with Kevin Smith). Since his death in 2016, the music of Prince has been in the public eye, including commercials and a recent all-Prince episode of Black-ish. Universal Pictures had success with the ABBA musical Mamma Mia (and to some lesser extent, it’s sequel Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again), and now the studio is hoping to replicate that, but with the music of Prince. Universal has made a deal with Prince’s estate for an original movie (ie, not a Purple Rain remake, for example) inspired by the songs of Prince. The reports about the movie specifically reference Mamma Mia!, so don’t expect a Prince biopic, but a fictional story that just features the songs. In related news, Universal is also partnering with Issa Rae on a musical romance called Love in America. Considering Universal has had mixed success with Mamma Mia! (the first film was Rotten at 55%, while the second was Certified Fresh at 81%), and considering Prince’s music is good enough to stand on its own, without shoehorning it into a made-up story, we aren’t especially optimistic here. Maybe they’ll prove us wrong.
Just last week, Warner Bros. and DC Comics announced their plans for Blue Beetle in an effort to present the first Latino-led superhero movie. That news obviously came just months after Black Panther blew up the box office, eventually taking the #2 slot in 2018 global box office with $1.346 billion (Avengers: Infinity War was #1 with over $2 billion). Marvel itself unveiled its plans for Shang-Chi, which promises to do for Marvel’s superheroes what Crazy Rich Asians did for romantic comedies. Also called Master of Kung Fu (and in another title, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu), Shang-Chi is a martial arts hero who spun out of the same exploitation-inspired era of 1970s Marvel Comics that gave us Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Ghost Rider, and The Punisher. Unlike Black Panther, however, Shang-Chi has some unwanted baggage that any movie based on him is going to have find a way around. To that end, Marvel has hired Asian-American screenwriter Dave Callaham, whose credits include Doom, The Expendables, 2020’s Wonder Woman 1984, and the animated sequel to next week’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Callaham’s track record on the Tomatometer is currently entirely Rotten.
We’re still a few weeks away from the release of the Transformers spinoff Bumblebee later this month (12/21/18), but Paramount, the studio behind it, is already looking at doing a spinoff of another Hasbro franchise. They’ve already released two attempts at a G.I. Joe franchise, but neither film posted box office results anywhere close to Transformers. Regardless, Paramount is now developing a Snake Eyes movie to be directed by Robert Schwentke (Flightplan, R.I.P.D., Insurgent). Although Schwentke’s adaptation of the Red comic book series did earn a Certified Fresh 70% Tomatometer, most of his other films are Rotten. It’s not yet known if Ray Park will return as Snake Eyes or if Paramount will be looking at rebooting the character entirely.