Weekly Ketchup

Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo to Star in Wicked, and More Movie News

Matt Damon and Robert Downey Jr. join Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer, Gal Gadot is Snow White's Evil Queen, and Chris Pratt is... Garfield?

by | November 5, 2021 | Comments

This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Garfield, Snow White, and Wicked.



Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo

(Photo by Kristin Callahan, Lev Radin/Everett Collection)

A lot of movies take years to make their way through the development process, but every once in a while, we come across a project that has really taken a long time. Consider, for example, the hit stage musical Wicked, which debuted in 2003 and then began development as a theatrical film at Universal Pictures in 2004, some 17 years ago. That it took this long for the Wicked movie to get to the point of casting its two female leads also meant that an amazing prediction was able to happen. Back in 2011, Ariana Grande was still years away from becoming famous (her first album wasn’t until 2013, and her TV work mostly involved Nickelodeon’s Voctorious). Even so, it was then that Grande tweeted about seeing Wicked on stage, “Made me realize again how badly I want 2 play Glinda at some point in my life! #DreamRole.” Kids (and kids at heart), don’t give up on those dreams, because Ariana Grande has been cast as Glinda in the movie version of Wicked. Grande will star opposite Cynthia Erivo (HarrietBad Times at the El Royale), who landed the lead role as Elphaba, aka the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Their casting announcement comes just one week after the production hit something of a speed bump as the start of filming had to be delayed (again) to June, 2022. Wicked will be directed by Jon M. Chu, who is coming to Wicked hot off another Broadway musical adaptation, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights (Certified Fresh at 94%).

Other Top Headlines


Gal Gadot

(Photo by RCF/Everett Collection)

Gal Gadot is probably always going to be associated in fans’ minds with DC Comics and Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman, but this week, she signed on for one of Walt Disney Pictures’ most anticipated live-action adaptations of one of their classic animated films. The crazy thing is that Gadot’s new character doesn’t even have her own name, because she will be co-starring in Snow White as “The Evil Queen.” Gadot joins West Side Story star Rachel Zegler, who signed on to star as Snow White in June. It’s been 11 years since Disney’s current slate of live-action remakes began with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (Rotten at 51%), but Snow White is one of the last “big” classics that have yet to get the same treatment (The Little Mermaid, due on 5/26/2023, recently wrapped filming). Snow White is expected to start filming in the summer of 2022 under the direction of Mark Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man, (500) Days of Summer). Gal Gadot is also expected to return for Wonder Woman 3, which is reportedly currently being written.


Taika Waitit on the set of Thor: Ragnarok

(Photo by Jasin Boland/©Marvel)

In the last couple of weeks, as reviews and stories have been written about Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (Certified Fresh at 83%), the director who gets mentioned the most is David Lynch, because he directed the first theatrical adaptation of Dune (Rotten at 44%) in 1984. There is, however, another filmmaker whose connection to Dune are the subject of a documentary called Jodorowsky’s Dune (Certified Fresh at 98%). Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky is now 92 years old, and one of his non-film projects is being developed by one of Hollywood’s most celebrated directors (who’s neither Lynch nor Villeneuve). Taika Waititi (Jojo RabbitThor: Ragnarok), who recently wrapped filming of Thor: Love and Thunder (7/8/2022), has signed on to co-write and direct an adaptation of the space opera graphic novel The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky and acclaimed artist Moebius (aka Jean Giraud). The Incal tells a fantastic adventure story about a mysterious artifact found in the far future that is wanted by powerful factions from across the galaxy. It should be noted that Waititi also has a few other big movies in the works, including a reboot of Flash Gordon and a mystery Star Wars project, so his take on The Incal will probably take several years before it can be produced.


Matt Damon and Robert Downey Jr.

(Photo by Kristin Callahan, Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection)

One of the most surprising unintended results of the COVID-19 pandemic was Christopher Nolan’s decision to exit his career-long relationship with Warner Bros. over how Tenet was released in 2020. After talking to several possible studios (including Warner Bros.), Nolan eventually moved to Universal Pictures for his next project, a $100 million adaptation of the story of atomic bomb scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer (to be played by Cillian Murphy). Oppenheimer has been coming together relatively quickly in recent weeks, including getting a release date of July 21, 2023 (right around when Warner Bros. used to release many of Nolan’s films), and the casting two weeks ago of Emily Blunt as Oppenheimer’s wife. For two of the historical supporting characters, Christopher Nolan has drawn upon two A-listers, one of whom was one of Marvel’s absolute biggest stars (Robert Downey, Jr), while the other (Matt Damon) had a fun cameo appearance in Thor: Ragnerok. We can expect Oppenheimer to have a pretty large ensemble cast, so Murphy, Blunt, Downey, and Damon will likely have more new cast members announced soon.


Bradley Cooper in Limitless

(Photo by John Baer/Rogue Pictures)

After Warner Bros, announced last  year that their entire 2021 slate would also debut day-and-date on HBO Max, one of the biggest question marks revolved around Dune (Certified Fresh at 83%) and how its streaming availability would impact its domestic box office take (which ended up being $41 million, though it could have done better). Warner Bros. appears to be interpreting the relative success of Dune as a signal that there might be a theatrical audience for other science fiction epics, so the studio is partnering with Bradley Cooper and his new Weston Middleton production company on an adaptation of the 1989 science fiction novel Hyperion (and its three sequels) by author Dan Simmons. One interesting factor here is that Hyperion had originally been planned as a SYFY cable limited series, but with Cooper now involved, it’s being developed as a big, Dune-style sci-fi epic (with possible sequels) by Warner Bros. proper instead. It’s not yet known if Cooper will also take a starring role in Hyperion.


Paw Patrol: The Movie

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

The rising popularity of all of the various streaming apps and services was always going to have made the years 2020 and 2021 periods of great change for the theatrical movie experience, but the impact was made exponentially greater by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the (many) new players is Paramount Plus, which reportedly had one of its biggest hits with the animated kid’s program PAW Patrol and its first movie, PAW Patrol: The Movie (8/20/2021) (Fresh at 79%), which debuted day-and-date with theatrical ($40 million). Another recent development was the promotion of Nickelodeon boss Brian Robbins to become the head of Paramount, and this week, we saw one of Robbins’ first major new projects that bridges both of his worlds. Paramount is moving forward with the animated sequel PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie,. which has been scheduled for an exclusive theatrical release on October 13, 2023. The commitment to theatrical for the sequel to a popular recent streaming hit echoes Warner Bros.’ announcement of most of their post-2021 films (besides the HBO Max exclusives like Batgirl) also being theatrical exclusives. In PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie, a “magical meteor” will strike Adventure City, giving the canine cops superheroic abilities, transforming them into “The Mighty Pups.”


Julius Avery, director of Overlord

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

For the most part, Hollywood was very slow to start adapting Japanese manga and anime into live-action films, but the pace has been picking up for a few years, including 2019’s Alita: Battle Angel (Fresh at 61%), Netflix’s upcoming Cowboy Bebop series, and Sony’s recently announced adaptation of Knights of the Zodiac. Sony Pictures has been behind a fair amount of these adaptations, especially if we include Japanese books that weren’t originally manga, like the source material for Edge of Tomorrow and the upcoming Bullet Train. The studio’s latest project is an adaptation of Hiroya Oku’s Gantz, about alien-hunting assassins in a scenario that brings to mind (loosely) both Squid Game and Edge of Tomorrow. For Gantz, Sony Pictures has hired director Julius Avery, whose best known film so far is probably the World War II zombie movie Overlord (Certified Fresh at 81%). Avery’s next film before Gantz will be the recently wrapped superhero drama Samaritan (8/26/2022), starring Sylvester Stallone.


Chris Pratt

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

As a film actor, Chris Pratt is probably best known as the star of two of the biggest current live action blockbuster franchises (Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy), but he’s also been quite active as a voice actor as well. First, there was The LEGO Movie (Certified Fresh at 96%) and its sequel (Certified Fresh at 84%), followed by Pixar’s Onward (Certified Fresh at 88%), and he recently signed on to voice Nintendo’s Mario. Except for Super Mario Bros (12/21/2022), which was first adapted as a live-action film in 1993 (Rotten at 28%), most of these were relatively original, but for his next voice role, Pratt is taking over where Bill Murray left off. Chris Pratt is now signed to provide the voice of Garfield the lasagna-loving cat in a new computer-animated film from Sony Pictures and Alcon Entertainment. Unlike Garfield: The Movie (Rotten at 15%) and its sequel Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (Rotten at 12%), the new film is expected to be entirely animated. Former Disney director Mark Dindal (Chicken Little,  The Emperor’s New Groove) will direct Garfield from a screenplay by screenwriter David Reynolds (co-writer of Finding Nemo, Fantasia 2000), who also worked with Dindal on The Emperor’s New Groove.


TikTok star Josh Richards

(Photo by @joshrichards)

Internet fame poses quite the challenge for Hollywood. On the one hand, the argument can be made that 40 million fans (including, in this case, 25 million followers on TikTok alone) represent a bigger fanbase than many other source materials (even Marvel barely sells a million comic books each month nowadays). On the other hand, those fans also don’t usually pay for the online content they’re following or enjoying. The next Internet celebrity to have his fanbase tested will be TikTok star Josh Richards, whose new production company CrossCheck has made a deal with STXfilms. The first project to be developed in their new collaboration will be a holiday comedy called Halloween Party, about “two friends on the fringes of Hollywood [who] go on a hunt for a crazy gamer’s fabled Halloween party. Their chase takes them through legendary ragers, haunted mansions, and the hidden depths of their own friendship as they try to get a taste of Hollywood glamor.” It’s not yet clear as to whether Richards will play one of the two friends, or the “crazy gamer” whose party they’re trying to find.

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