This week’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news (the stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next), covering stories from the last few weeks (due to the holidays) for titles like Captain Marvel 2, Justice League Dark, Kung Fu, and Mean Girls.
Last July at San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios presented an ambitious slate for the movies and Disney+ shows that will make up Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although those movies included sequels like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (5/7/2021) and Thor: Love and Thunder (11/5/2021), there were several sequels that fans were left wondering about, although we have since heard about release dates for Tom Holland’s third solo Spider-Man film (7/16/2021) and Black Panther II (5/6/2022). We can now add another of those missing sequels, as Marvel Studios has officially hired screenwriter Megan McDonnell to start writing a Captain Marvel sequel starring Brie Larson. McDonnell is also one of the co-writers of the upcoming Disney+ series WandaVision starring Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany (The Vision). The Captain Marvel sequel, which is aiming for release sometime in 2022, is expected to be set in the present day, and Marvel Studios is currently hoping to hire a female director for the sequel.
Just last year, when Dora the Explorer finally got her own live-action movie called Dora and the Lost City of Gold, the filmmakers made the curious choice to turn Dora into a teenager who grew up in the jungle and ends up in a Los Angeles high school. If that premise seemed familiar (to those who actually saw it), that might be because the same premise was used by Tina Fey for the 2004 high school comedy Mean Girls (Certified Fresh at 84%), starring Lindsay Lohan. Tina Fey took Mean Girls to Broadway in 2018 as a musical adaptation, and this week announced that Paramount Pictures is now also developing a Mean Girls movie musical. Other upcoming movies adapted from stage musicals also include In the Heights (6/26/2020), West Side Story (12/18/2020), and not-yet-produced adaptations of Little Shop of Horrors and Sunset Boulevard (both of which were also musicals based on movies).
One of the surprise box office and critical successes of late 2019 was the racing drama Ford v Ferrari (Certified Fresh at 92%), which was directed by James Mangold (Logan, The Wolverine) with leads played by Christian Bale and Matt Damon. Mangold is next expected to direct Timothée Chalamet in an untitled musical drama about Bob Dylan, but this week, he also recruited one of his Ford v Ferrari stars for another of his projects. Matt Damon is now attached to star in James Mangold’s film adaptation of the Don Winslow crime fiction novel The Force. Damon will star in The Force as “a NYPD detective who runs an elite crime fighting squad, but bends the law so often that he loses the line between good and evil and becomes ensnared in a pending corruption scandal.”
Following a movie business pattern that’s becoming increasingly familiar, an ambitious but potentially expensive biopic is sidestepping the traditional studios and will instead be produced and distributed by Netflix (ie, The Irishman). In 2018, Paramount Pictures seemed to be close to greenlighting an untitled biopic about the famed American composer Leonard Bernstein which Bradley Cooper is attached to both star in and direct. As of this week, Paramount has dropped Cooper’s Leonard Berstein biopic, with Netflix instead stepping in to produce and distribute the biopic. Steven Spielberg’s Amblin remains attached to the biopic, and they are now joined by Martin Scorsese (of the aforementioned The Irishman) and Todd Phillips (The Joker), which means that the film now has direct connections to two of this year’s most discussed Academy Awards contenders. Scorsese at one point was also developing a Leonard Bernstein biopic, and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story remake features music written by Bernstein. The project’s most obvious connection to Todd Phillips is that Bradley Cooper starred in The Hangover and its sequels, which were directed by Phillips.
A few years back, Guillermo del Toro was developing an adaptation of the various DC Comics supernatural characters associated with the team called Justice League Dark, before eventually moving on to movies like The Shape of Water and Nightmare Alley. The concept of a group of spooky magicians (John Constantine, Zatanna) and creatures (Deadman, Swamp Thing) remains an intriguing one (especially in the new horror revival era). This week, J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company made an exclusive deal with Warner Media to start development on film and television projects based on Justice League Dark and its related characters. It’s not yet known if J.J. Abrams will himself be directing any of these potential TV and film projects, or which characters and titles might eventually be produced, but there are over a dozen possible projects that could be covered by this umbrella development deal.
Some “pulp fiction” horror and science fiction authors of the early 20th century like Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan, John Carter) and Robert E. Howard (Conan) have had their writings adapted frequently as movies and TV shows, but one of their peers whose work has been under adapted, relative to his fame, is H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft’s stories have such a definite style that “Lovecraftian horror” is a subgenre itself, but most of the video games and movies called Lovecraftian haven’t actually been based on Lovecraft’s stories directly. That said, Nicolas Cage stars in this week’s Color Out of Space (Certified Fresh at 86%), an adaptation of the Lovecraft short story of the same name directed by Richard Stanley. Stanley revealed this week that he is now planning on adapting two more H.P. Lovecraft works to form a trilogy. He didn’t specify which of Lovecraft’s works might follow Color Out of Space, but three of the more famous titles that have to be seen as strong candidates are The Dunwich Horror, At the Mountains of Madness (which Guillermo del Toro almost adapted), and that most famous of Lovecraftian horror stories, The Call of Cthulhu.
Hollywood has continued to mine beloved classic TV shows from the 1970s and the 1980s for several years now (including last year’s Charlie’s Angels, and next month’s Fantasy Island). One of the most influential TV shows of the era that has been in development on-and-off for a long while is the 1972-1975 ABC series Kung Fu, starring David Carradine as a Shaolin monk travelling through the Wild West of the late 19th century. A movie version of Kung Fu is now reportedly back in development at Universal Pictures with action director David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde) attached to direct and produce. Universal reportedly is eager to reteam with Leitch on Kung Fu following the success last summer of his most recent film as director, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Fresh at 67%).
Within the wrestling fan community, few legacies are as haunting as the Von Erich family, which some refer to as “cursed” because five of the six sons died before their father, Fritz Von Erich (a.k.a. Jack Adkisson; Von Erich wasn’t their real name). That story may soon be adapted as a movie with the news this week that independent film director Sean Durkin is now developing exactly such a movie. Durkin made his directorial debut with 2011’s Martha Marcy May Marlene (Certified Fresh at 89%), and is at Sundance this week with The Nest, starring Jude Law.
Although it now takes many different forms, one of the most popular concepts in “social gaming” today is called “Werewolf.” The concept generally involves players taking secret roles either as “townies” or “villagers” (the good guys) or “werewolves” or “mafia” (the bad guys), with the two sides working against each other secretly. That concept will soon be adapted as a horror comedy called Werewolves Within, with Sam Richardson (Veep) already attached to star. Werewolves Within will be a direct adaptation of the Ubisoft virtual reality video game of the same title.
If one only knows Channing Tatum from movies like 21 Jump Street, Logan Lucky, and G.I. Joe, it might be easy to forget that he first emerged as a star in the 2006 dance movie Step Up (and also showed off impressive moves in Hail, Caesar!). Channing Tatum is apparently eager to get back in the singing and dancing game, as this week, he signed on with Walt Disney Pictures to star in their long-in-development project called Bob the Musical. The premise of Bob the Musical is that, following a head injury, a man suddenly finds that he can hear the soundtracks of the people around him. Coincidentally, although Bob the Musical has been in development since 2004, this news of it being revived with a major A-list movie star comes just a few weeks after the premiere on January 7, 2020 of the NBC musical comedy Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, which has the same premise, but with a female lead.