Today’s Ketchup brings you ten headlines from the world of film development news, covering titles such as James Bond 25, The New Gods, and new roles for Bradley Cooper, Key & Peele, and Margot Robbie.
It was only three months ago that Ava DuVernay revealed on twitter that her favorite superhero was Big Barda of DC’s New Gods, a comic created by former Marvel artist and Stan Lee collaborator Jack Kirby. Considering this week’s news, we probably should have taken that as a hint. Warner Bros. attempted to develop an animated New Gods movie back in the late 1990s, and though the project was never realized, it now looks like it’ll happen after all, and the studio has brought DuVernay on board to direct it. No screenwriter has been named yet, but Warner Bros will obviously be making that next hiring a priority. This piece suggests why Ava Duvernay is potentially a great choice for The New Gods, and this one explains who some of these characters are, exactly.
It’s fairly common to hear a studio or director with a new project mention that they “want” a specific actor for a role, even if no negotiations have begun. And it’s even more common in this digital age for a comment like that to become a story. For example, ever since we first learned of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood last summer, we’ve been hearing that QT wrote the role of doomed actress Sharon Tate with Margot Robbie in mind to play her. However, it was only in this week that Robbie actually entered official negotiations to join Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in that film. DiCaprio will play a TV western actor who wants to expand into movies (and also lives near Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate), and Pitt will play his stuntman body double and best friend. Sony Pictures has scheduled Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for August 9, 2019, which will mark the 50th anniversary of Sharon Tate’s death at the hands of the Manson Family.
Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) has been mentioned frequently the last few weeks as the likely director of next year’s James Bond 25 (11/8/19). However, at pretty much the same time, there have also been the reports about Boyle preparing to direct a musical starring Lily James (Baby Driver, TV’s Downton Abbey). This week, Boyle clarified his schedule, which is that yes, he’s doing both projects this year, in a spate of activity we usually only see from Steven Spielberg (The Post and Ready Player One coming out within 3 months, for example). Danny Boyle will start filming his Lily James musical in 6 or 7 weeks, and then film the 25th official James Bond film late this year. In other spy movie director news, Ridley Scott is also in talks to direct Queen & Country, an adaptation of an award-winning comic book series.
Just a week or so after his Academy Award win for Best Original Screenplay, Jordan Peele probably has a lot of opportunities coming his way, but the first new project we’re hearing about will actually reunite him with his long-time Key & Peele partner Keegan-Michael Key. Key and Peele have made a deal with Netflix to provide the voices of the two lead demon characters in a stop-motion animated movie called Wendell and Wild. The movie will be directed by Henry Selick, whose string of stop-motion films has included The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Coraline. Wendell and Wild will also be produced by Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw production company, which is currently developing Spike Lee’s Black Klansman, Peele’s untitled next film as director, and the upcoming HBO anthology series Lovecraft Country.
In the wake of their Spider-Man: Homecoming deal with Marvel Studios, Sony Pictures continues to develop the new slate of characters they have the rights to. The first of these movies will be this October’s Venom (10/5/18), starring Tom Hardy, which is expected to be followed by Silver and Black (about Silver Sable and Black Cat), and they’re also developing movies about The Sinister Six and Morbius the Living Vampire. This week’s news shows that Sony is looking at some of the more obscure characters available (yes, more obscure than Morbius the Living Vampire), such as the Spawn-like 1990s character Nightwatch. Sony Pictures is hoping to recruit director Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Chiraq, Malcolm X) to take on Nightwatch, which is being adapted by Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker. Nightwatch tells the story of a scientist who witnesses the death of a superhero, only to discover that the hero, Nightwatch, is actually an older version of himself.
There’s been a trend in biopics recently of focusing on a key period of the subject’s life (see: The King’s Speech, My Week with Marilyn, Jackie, Darkest Hour, Marshall, etc). Though it might seem like a narrative limitation, it can actually be quite freeing, because screenwriters aren’t forced to squeeze an entire life into 100 minutes. With all that in mind, Kristen Stewart is now signed to play 1960s actress Jean Seberg (Breathless, Paint Your Wagon, The Mouse That Roared) in a movie called Against All Enemies, and the focus will be on Seberg’s well-documented struggles with the FBI’s COINTELPRO project due to her support of the Black Panther Party. Anthony Mackie (Marvel’s Falcon) will costar as Seberg’s romantic interest, civil rights activist Hakim Jamal.
There was a 19 year gap between Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) and Superman Returns (2006), but for a long time during the 1990s, that wasn’t what Warner Bros intended. Tim Burton (Batman) was expected to reboot the character in Superman Lives, a project with so much history that it inspired a feature length documentary a few years back. The star of Superman Lives would have been Nicolas Cage (the Coppola cousin who loves superhero comics so much he named himself after Luke Cage, true story), but it obviously never happened. Or, we should say, “yet.” Nicolas Cage will finally get to play Superman in this summer’s animated feature Teen Titans GO! to the Movies (6/27/18). Nicolas Cage’s Superman will be joined by Justice League teammates Wonder Woman (voiced by singer Halsey) and Green Lantern (voiced by rapper Lil Yachty).
James Bond was obviously the most famous and popular spy movie franchise of the 1960s, but he wasn’t the only one. James Coburn was In Like Flint, Robert Vaughn was The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (a TV show that was repackaged in movie form), and Dean Martin was Matt Helm. From 1960 to 1993, author Donald Hamilton wrote 27 novels about the adventures of American spy Matt Helm, and Dean Martin starred in four Matt Helm movies from 1966 to 1968. It’s sort of similar these days, with James Bond still going strong amidst competition from Mission: Impossible, Matt Damon’s Bourne movies, Kingsman, Atomic Blonde, and even the aforementioned reboot of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Bradley Cooper wants to join those ranks, and he plans on doing it by rebooting Matt Helm. George Clooney is among the project’s executive producers (and Steven Spielberg is also somehow involved), and Matt Helm is now being adapted by screenwriter Tom Shepherd, who also wrote next year’s The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle (starring Robert Downey Jr) and Hey Stella (about Marlon Brando).
In October, Universal Pictures halted preproduction of their Bride of Frankenstein reboot, which was a decision widely estimated to be related to the box office disappointment of The Mummy (which was supposed to start a new cinematic universe). Five months later, director Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast, Dreamgirls) has found a new project to make this year instead, and it reunites him with an actor who’s starred in two of his previous films. Sir Ian McKellen (who worked with Condon on Gods and Monsters and Mr. Holmes) and Dame Helen Mirren will star in New Line Cinema’s con man drama The Good Liar. McKellen will play an aging con artist who finds himself “caring about [Mirren’s well-to-do widow], turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life.” Could The Good Liar be a contender for this year’s Academy Awards acting categories?
Someone (probably Steve Allen) once said, “comedy is tragedy plus time.” Well, the biggest tragedy of the 20th century was the Holocaust of World War II, and its figurehead was Adolf Hitler, but the “time” variable for Hitler’s eligibility as a comedic figure has always been a bit wobbly. Charlie Chaplin spoofed Hitler in The Great Dictator in 1940 (albeit, before the full nature of the Holocaust was known), but 50 years later, the British TV show Heil Honey I’m Home! was cancelled after just one episode. More recently, Hitler has made appearances on South Park, on Epic Rap Battles of History, and in the German Borat-style movie Look Who’s Back (which you can stream on Netflix). The next director to take on Adolf Hitler will be Taika Waititi, who is currently four movies into a Certified Fresh streak (Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and Thor: Ragnarok). Waititi will play an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler in Jojo Rabbit, about “a 10-year-old boy who is desperate to join the dictator’s ranks during World War II.” Waititi’s version of Hitler will be “the invention of a boy who misses his dad, and, confused by Nazi propaganda, imagines a figure who is a combination of his father and the führer.” Waititi has described his Hitler as being, “not the Adolf we know and hate, this guy is goofy, charming, and glides through life with a child-like naivety.” Taika Waititi is a skilled director with a fantastic sense of humor, but can he — could anyone — pull this off?