This week’s Ketchup brings you another ten headlines from the world of film development news (those stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next). Included in the mix this time around are stories about such titles as Fruit Ninja, Garfield, Halloween, and Power Rangers.
Unlike almost any other movie series one can think of, the James Bond franchise is one of the most truly perennial, with 24 official films now released. Daniel Craig has starred in the last four films (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and last year’s Spectre), but whether he might return for a fifth has carried a conspicuous question mark for months (or even years) now. And that’s not the only question surrounding the 25th James Bond film, as Sony’s contract with EON expired with Spectre, and director Sam Mendes has also said he won’t be returning either. With all that said, most people define James Bond films by which actor plays him, so casting negotiations are the news that get the most press. Let’s start with Daniel Craig himself. This week, Craig (and Katherine Heigl) were reported to both be close to signing to star in the next film from director Steven Soderbergh (of the Ocean’s Eleven franchise), called Logan Lucky, about brothers who plan a heist during a NASCAR race in Charlotte. This story is rather pertinent to James Bond, because Eon Productions reportedly wants to start filming in the fall of 2016 (for a possible release in late 2017), which is also when Logan Lucky is scheduled to begin filming. This might suggest that Craig is indeed moving on from 007, but it could also just be that he knows James Bond 25 won’t film in late 2016 after all (or that he could otherwise just do both). So, who might replace Daniel Craig if he’s done with 007? The story that probably made the most news this week was the idea that Gillian Anderson (Agent Scully from The X-Files) might be willing to take over as “Jane” Bond. In addition to being the first woman Bond in the official franchise, Gillian Anderson would also be the first 007 born in the USA (she has dual citizenship in both the UK and the USA). There was also a story this week claiming that Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, The Thing from Fantastic Four) has had “discussions” about taking over as 007. Finally, the movie blog Birth.Movies.Death ran a story this morning (just as Memorial Day weekend starts) reporting that it’s Tom Hiddleston (Marvel’s “Loki”) who is now in advanced talks to take over as James Bond from Daniel Craig. At the same time, they note that “no official offer has been made,” which suggests that these talks could be the same as those with Jamie Bell, or perhaps any other actor (such as the frequently mentioned Idris Elba). Hiddleston will soon start filming his role in Thor: Ragnarok (11/3/17), but it’s likely that he (not the film’s main villain this time around) would be done as Loki before the 25th James Bond film starts filming. Eon Productions has been officially mum on all of this, and it’s possible that Barbara Broccoli plans on making four big announcements (the star, the director, the distributor, and the release date) all at once, at a big event sometime soon.
French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve is definitely on the rise, following acclaim for Prisoners and Sicario, and with both Story of Your Life and the Blade Runner sequel on the way in the next couple of years. Jake Gyllenhaal starred in two of Villeneuve’s films (Enemy and Prisoners), and this week, we learned that Gyllenhaal and Villeneuve are planning on working together a third time, as both are attached to an adaptation of the Jo Nesbo crime thriller The Son. Gyllenhaal will play a former high school wrestler who becomes a heroin junkie after landing in prison, where he learns hidden secrets about his police officer father’s untimely suicide and sets out to find the people responsible. It’s expected that Villeneuve will probably direct The Son after the Blade Runner sequel, which has been casting lately for a summer, 2016 film start, and which Fox has scheduled for October 6, 2017.
Though Disney has enjoyed success in recent years adapting their animated films into live action, they hadn’t announced any plans to do so with The Little Mermaid, so Universal Pictures decided to do it instead. Sofia Coppola was previously attached to direct (newcomer Rebecca Thomas now has the job), Working Title is producing, and Chloe Grace Moretz is attached to star in the adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s original story (which is more of a “downer”). However, Disney’s The Jungle Book was such a success that it appears the studio is confident enough to proceed with their own live action The Little Mermaid after all. It should be noted that film is in its very “early stages,” and so unlike The Jungle Book, there’s still a very good chance that Disney’s The Little Mermaid will premiere after the one starring Chloe Grace Moretz. Disney’s future “live action fairy tales” include Pete’s Dragon (8/12/16), Beauty and the Beast (3/17/17), Cruella, Dumbo, The Jungle Book 2, Maleficent 2, Mulan, Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and the Mary Poppins sequel.
There have now been ten movies in the Halloween horror franchise, but its creator, John Carpenter only directed the first film (Carpenter did produce/write Halloween II and produce Halloween III: Season of the Witch), but he’s finally returning to the Halloween. John Carpenter will serve as executive producer and composer on the 11th Halloween film, which is described as a new reboot, following the two reboot films directed by Rob Zombie. The reboot will be a coproduction between Miramax, producer Malek Akkad, and Blumhouse Productions (the home to such horror franchises as Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and The Purge). Speaking about his return to the franchise, John Carpenter said, “Michael Myers is not a character. He is a force of nature. He is not a person. He is part supernatural, part human. He’s like the wind. He’s an evil wind. When you start straying away from that and you get into explaining, you’re lost. So hopefully we can guide it back in that direction.” As for who might direct the next Halloween, apparently both Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Ouija 2) and Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) are potentially in negotiations for the job, though which will land it is still unknown.
Speaking of Michael Myers, Mike Myers has seemingly retired from being a live action actor for quite a while now, having last appeared in a cameo in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds back in 2009. (In that time, Myers has also changed his look quite a bit, going with a full head of silver hair that makes him look like Steve Martin’s little brother). The former SNL star might be ready to raise his profile again, however, because he and Simon Pegg have both joined a new “noir thriller” called Terminal. Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad) was the first to sign on — she’ll play a woman who encounters two hit men (Max Irons and Dexter Fletcher). It’s not yet known who Myers and Pegg are playing, but it sounds likely that one of them (possibly Myers) is the mysterious man who hires the two hit men for a “suicidal” job.
Anyone who has followed pop culture the last several years may have noticed that “meta” is very much in (you can browse the dozens of “meta” categories at TV Tropes for examples). For those unfamiliar with the word, “meta” in pop culture refers to a story or character that is at least partially self-aware (Deadpool, for example, is very “meta”). Such stories have been around since antiquity (the Greek chorus is also “meta”), but perhaps because of both social media and “binge watching,” it just seems even more prevalent these days. This week, we learned that Australian comedian/actress Rebel Wilson is now signed with New Line Cinema to star in romantic comedy that is, you guessed it, “meta.” The currently untitled comedy centers on a woman (Wilson) who wakes up one day to realize that she is living within a romantic comedy, undoubtedly with all of the tropes and conventions that one might expect. No director has been announced yet.
It’s getting to the point that you almost need a “Wiki” database to keep track of all of Dwayne Johnson’s potential projects. An incomplete list would include: Central Intelligence, Moana, Fast 8 (and probably 9 and 10, etc), Baywatch, Jumanji, Doc Savage, Shazam!, the third Journey movie, and the video game adaptation of Rampage. Well, here’s another to add to that list, because Johnson will reunite with his Central Intelligence director for an action movie called Skyscraper, which will be produced by Legendary Pictures. Described as “Die Hard in China,” Skyscraper will be set in China at one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, where presumably there’s a lot of shooting and jumping and punching and such going on. The verdict is still out on Central Intelligence, but director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s last two films (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and We’re the Millers) both earned Rotten Tomatometer scores.
Hollywood is still committed to making video game movies happen, even though the Tomatometer history of such films is hardly promising. Indeed, the highest Tomatometer score any video game adaptation has ever received was 44 percent for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and even that was 16 percent shy of Fresh. Of course, Hollywood sometimes just likes making money regardless of Tomatometer scores (go figure!), and the recent box office success of Angry Birds suggests that (sometimes) that might even be feasible. That film was animated, but this week’s news is about a live action movie based on another “video game app franchise” — Fruit Ninja. That’s right, the game about ninjas who use their katanas to chop up, well, fruit is now in development as a potential movie. The Tetris movie trilogy just made the news last week, so… sure, why not. That still doesn’t make either a great idea, however.
You can probably file this under “milestones few people will celebrate,” but June 16, 2016 will mark the 10th anniversary of Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, the second of two Rotten (14 percent and 11 percent) animated/live action hybrid films starring the voice of Bill Murray as the classic orange comic strip cat. Well, maybe somebody did notice, because WB-based Alcon Entertainment has acquired the feature film rights to Garfield. Alcon’s plan is to produce a new series of animated movies starring Garfield (and friends). The comic strip’s creator, Jim Davis, is also on board as executive producer. Unlike the previous films, these new Garfield movies will be entirely animated, with no live action. Bill Murray is also not expected to return as the voice of Garfield.
It’s been obvious for a while now that Lionsgate is hungry for as many “franchises” as it can develop. Though it previously put a lot of investment in various YA franchises (including The Hunger Games, Divergent, and others), the box office returns for such films appear to be on the wane. Lionsgate is also trying to make Now You See Me a “thing,” but we’ve still yet to see if the sequel this summer will be another success. And then, there’s their Power Rangers movie, scheduled for March 24, 2017. This week, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer made the news when he sort of casually said this, “We are really, really excited about the Power Rangers movie. We could see doing five or six or seven.” Just nineteen words (and most of them very short, at that), but that’s enough for online film writers to spin into very lengthy pieces. It’s unclear what the hypothetical seven Power Rangers movies could be about, but one possibility is that the number “seven” correlates (roughly) to the number of colors represented by various incarnations of the Power Rangers. Yes, the first movie will feature Red, Blue, Pink, Yellow, and Black, but there have also been Green and White Power Rangers. There have also been rumors that this first movie might particularly focus on the adventures of the Red Power Ranger. If this turns out to be true, which color do fans think should be the focus of the second Power Rangers movie? And if Lionsgate wants to go past seven movies, which other colors do you think should get their own Power Rangers? Brown, perhaps?