This Week’s Ketchup brings you another ten headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles for this Friday the 13th as the horror reboots of Dracula and and Scream, as well as Disney’s live-action remake of Peter Pan & Wendy.
Much has been written about how the relative disappointment of 2017’s The Mummy led to Universal scrapping its plans for a “Dark Universe” featuring their classic Universal monsters. Since then, Universal has changed course with those characters and franchises, including Paul Feig’s Dark Army project, a possible Monster Mash musical, and the recent reboot of The Invisible Man (Certified Fresh at 91%), starring Elisabeth Moss. The box office opening of $28 million for the latter (from a budget of just $7 million) is seen as a relative success in a period in which other movies like The Call of the Wild and Pixar’s Onward had openings that were perceived as more disappointing. The Invisible Man was produced by Blumhouse Productions (Get Out, The Purge, Insidious, Sinister), and it’s sounding like Universal wants Blumhouse to revive their other classic Universal monsters. Blumhouse and Univeral are now teaming up on a Dracula reboot (which is bad news for Dracula Untold star Luke Evans) to be directed by Karyn Kusama (Destroyer, The Invitation). (Incidentally, the Hollywood Reporter ran a piece this week about how Dracula can be rebooted for the 2020s.) Producer Jason Blum has also been talking up his interest in rebooting Frankenstein recently, though nothing official has been reported on that film yet. In related news, Aquaman director James Wan is now developing a non-Blumhouse project “inspired by Universal’s monster legacy” (however one wants to interpret that).
From 2003 to 2010, Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company began a series of horror movie reboots that would eventually include some of the most iconic franchises, like Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Amityville Horror, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That eventually led to other horror franchises being rebooted (like Halloween, Child’s Play, and this year’s Candyman), but one that has quietly still been waiting its turn is Scream, the 1996 movie that arguably first succeeded at making horror “meta” in a mainstream way. The Scream reboot (also sometimes called Scream 5) looks like it might finally happen with this week’s news that the project has gone to the team behind last year’s “Hide and Seek” horror film, Ready or Not (Certified Fresh at 88%). The Scream reboot will be directed by the same co-directors from a screenplay by Chad Villella, who executive produced Ready or Not.
Movie release dates change all the time, but the COVID-19 coronavirus is having such an impact that as of this writing, there are exactly zero movies scheduled for wide release in the next three weeks (3/20, 3/27, and 4/3). After today, the next wide release (unless it also moves) will be Trolls World Tour on April 10. So, how did we get to that huge gap in the schedule? The biggest film to move was A Quiet Place Part II, which was pulled from its release next Friday (3/20/2020) to be rescheduled at a later date. You can read director John Krasinski’s statement about the movie on Twitter right here. Incidentally, this delay came soon after John Krasinski revealed that he already has ideas for A Quiet Place Part III, so he might now have more time to work on that third film. Paramount also pulled The Lovebirds from April 3rd, and STXfilms moved My Spy (after many other release date shifts) from today to April 17th. The Jackass-style comedy Bad Trip was also pushed back from April 10th to April 17th. One movie that was pushed back out of this range that actually does have a release date now is Peter Rabbit 2: The Runway, which got moved from its Easter-friendly April 3rd release date to August 7, 2020 (it’s not like Peter Rabbit is the “Easter Bunny,” though many make that mistake).
One of the films that was arguably hardest hit by delays caused by Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox last year was the Marvel Comics movie The New Mutants, which was originally scheduled for release on April 13, 2018. The long wait for The New Mutants seemed to finally be over as we entered this week, and Disney continued to promote the film’s April 3, 2020 release, including this nifty teaser that shows off Magik as played by Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma, The Witch). The beginning of promotion for The New Mutants also included director Josh Boone revealing that the sequel would have been called New Mutants: Brazil and would have introduced Antonio Banderas as Sunspot’s dad. That was, unfortunately, soon followed by more bad news for The New Mutants, yet again, as Disney has pulled three films from their March and April release dates: Mulan (was 3/27/2020), The New Mutants (was 4/3/2020), and Antlers (was 4/17/2020). Disney said in a statement that, “We truly believe in the moviegoing experience, and we are looking at new potential 2020 release dates to be announced at a later date.”
As you’ll read below, filming on several Disney projects has been suspended, and one of them was Peter Pan & Wendy, Disney’s live-action remake of the 1953 animated classic Peter Pan. That was actually the second time that Peter Pan & Wendy made the news this week, because just two days earlier, Disney announced who was playing the two leads. The role of Peter went to 12-year-old relative newcomer Alexander Molony, who to date has mostly appeared in TV shows like Claude and The Reluctant Landlord. The role of Wendy will be played by Ever Anderson, who, by birth, has perhaps a little more inherent fame, because her parents are actress Milla Jovovich and director Paul W.S. Anderson, who frequently directs Jovovich in video game adaptations like the Resident Evil franchise and the upcoming Monster Hunter (9/4/2020). Ever Anderson made her film debut playing a younger version of her mom (and the Red Queen) in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.
So far, most of the delays related to coronavirus concerns seem to be just for the next month or two, but some studios are reacting with much longer delays. The biggest came from Universal Pictures, which pulled F9 (the ninth Fast & Furious movie) from its 5/22/2020 release date, and pushed it all the way back to April 2, 2021. The curious thing about that particular date is that it was previously the release date for the next movie in the franchise, F10, which is presumably now delayed to late 2021 or even 2022 instead. The status of the production and release of F10 wasn’t really addressed in Universal’s statement this week (though it’s worth noting that Vin Diesel has talked about the final film actually being split into two parts ).
While several films have seen their imminent release dates shift over the past few days, there are still others that would have been currently filmed for late 2020 or 2021, and they’re also being delayed for similar reasons. One major project that has stopped filming temporarily is Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2/12/2021), because its director Destin Daniel Cretton has chosen to self-quarantine himself. That news was followed mere hours later by the announcement that Walt Disney Pictures had halted production of several film and TV projects, including the live-action remakes of The Little Mermaid (just nine days before filming was to start in London) and Peter Pan and Wendy, as well as Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley and Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel. Other studios are also halting production on some of their projects, including Universal Pictures’ romantic comedy Bros (starring Billy Eichner) and Sony Pictures’ The Nightingale (12/25/2020), starring Dakota and Elle Fanning, not to be confused with the 2019 film that shares the same title.
There were dozens of stories this week about the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus on Hollywood and its movies, but there was one story that definitively resonated across social media. Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have been in Australia to film Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley biopic (10/1/2021), in which Hanks plays “Colonel” Tom Parker. It was there where Hanks and Wilson announced to the world that they have tested positive for COVID-19 (their statement is worth reading if just to learn their symptoms). Meanwhile, production in Australia on the Elvis Presley biopic is temporarily halted, as many other productions have done this week. Hanks’ son, Colin Hanks, also took to Twitter soon after to give fans an update about their conditions.
It can be sort of fascinating to delve into casting stories over time and take note of which actors almost landed certain roles that were ultimately made famous by someone else. Just last week, we reported that Jason Statham had dropped out of the Kevin Hart action comedy The Man from Toronto, and now a week later, we can also reveal who someone in Hollywood thought was comparable enough to Jason Statham to be his replacement. The answer turns out to be a former sitcom star from Texas — which is quite different from an English action star — namely Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, Venom 2, The Hunger Games), who has signed a deal to star in The Man from Toronto opposite Kevin Hart. Sony Pictures has scheduled The Man from Toronto for release on November 20, 2020 (up against the monster movie Godzilla vs Kong), and the week before the James Bond movie No Time to Die.
Vin Diesel has become synonymous with his most successful franchise, the Fast & Furious movies, even if he’s got plenty of other movies on his résumé (like this week’s Bloodshot, Rotten at 35%, or as the voice of Groot in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies). Perhaps looking for another possible franchise (especially with Fast & Furious 10 expected to be the last in that run), Diesel is now talking about plans for a sequel to the 2015 fantasy action adventure The Last Witch Hunter (Rotten at 17%). It’s understandable if you can’t remember that The Last Witch Hunter was even a movie (people will probably eventually feel the same way about Bloodshot), as it only earned $27 million domestically. Nevertheless, Vin Diesel confirmed that Lionsgate has hired a writer for the sequel (though he doesn’t drop their name), and that he’s sometimes approached by fans who want to see him and Michael Caine return for a sequel.