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 Peter Rabbit, The Secret Life of Pets 2, and remakes of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Papillon, and Splash.
This summer, there were lots of “Grr” sounds from fans of the original Ghostbusters directed at the new remake. The issue wasn’t so much that there was a new Ghostbusters, but that it was a “Gender Reversed Remake.” Since Ghostbusters wasn’t a critical or box office disappointment (Certified Fresh at 73 percent, and $112 million at the domestic box office), it’s not at all surprising that Hollywood appears to be developing more gender-swapped remakes. We’ve already known for a while about the fourth Ocean’s Eleven movie, which will feature a mostly female cast of stars like Sandra Bullock, Elizabeth Banks, and Mindy Kaling. This week brought stories of two more remakes (the second is down below) in which genders will be swapped, but this is definitely the one that received the most attention. Channing Tatum and his 22 Jump Street costar Jillian Bell are now attached to star in a remake of the 1984 hit comedy Splash, which starred Daryl Hannah as a mermaid named Madison and Tom Hanks as the human who fell in love with her. In the remake, Tatum will play the “merman,” while Bell will play the female version of Tom Hanks’ character, who was saved as a child by the mermaid/merman. The Splash remake doesn’t yet have a director announced, but it will be produced by Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, which is currently in discussions with Walt Disney Pictures to distribute. The ever prolific Channing Tatum has several movies coming in the next few years (including Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Gambit, Logan Lucky, and the Jump Street-MiB crossover), and Jillian Bell will next be seen in the comedies Office Christmas Party, Fist Fight, and Rock That Body (with Ghostbusters star Kate McKinnon being in two of those).
One of the stories you have probably heard over and over about movies this summer is about how many “box office disappointments” there have been. That’s partially true (especially for live action sequels), but it’s actually been a pretty great box office summer for horror movies and animated kids movies. For example, Illumination Entertainment had another big hit with The Secret Life of Pets, which since July 8th has earned over $308 million domestically and over $411 million globally (and that’s before even opening in most foreign markets). So, it should hardly be surprising that Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment are now actively developing a sequel. There’s no word yet about what the title will be, but one guess could be the more grammatically correct The Secret Lives of Pets (or maybe not). Although it hasn’t yet been confirmed yet that any of the voice cast will return, the announced producers, director, and screenwriter all worked on the first movie (along with some other people). Universal has already announced a release date for the Secret Life of Pets sequel, which will be July 13, 2018, which is the week after Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp (7/6/18), the week before Fox’s anime adaptation Alita: Battle Angel (7/20/18), and two weeks before the Aquaman movie (7/27/18). The Secret Life of Pets is Certified Fresh with a Tomatometer score of 75 percent.
The big story in publishing this week was the release of the print publication of the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which, as one would expect, was very, very popular. Warner Bros and author J.K. Rowling have not yet announced any plans to adapt the two parts of the play into movies (though when they do, it will be hardly surprising). Instead, Warner Bros is currently focusing on the non-Potter spinoff franchise Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the first movie of which is scheduled for release this fall on November 18, 2016. It’s long been presumed that Warner Bros was planning on this being a new franchise (probably a trilogy), so this week’s news is something of a non-story, except maybe that it shows WB is confident. The studio has confirmed a release date of November 16, 2018 for the second Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie, with the third expected in November, 2020. That release date is one week after the new animated remake of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (11/9/18) and five days before Disney’s animated fairy tale Gigantic (about Jack romancing a girl giant) (11/21/18). The second movie will again be written by J.K. Rowling, directed by David Yates (The Legend of Tarzan, the last four Harry Potter movies), and star Eddie Redmayne as cryptozoology enthusiast Newt Scamander.
One of the biggest and most surprising recent stories in film development was the revelation that Lionsgate will be sending the fourth Divergent movie direct to TV, leading to a spinoff TV series. (Miles Teller, for one, stated he was “not sure” he would participate after being in the first three movies.) With The Hunger Games now wrapped, and several other recent dystopian YA novel adaptations faring poorly (The Giver, The Host, The 5th Wave), many pundits predicted that the trend was perhaps over. As it turns out, Lionsgate isn’t entirely ready to give up on the genre; the studio is moving forward with an adaptation of Chaos Walking, a novel by author Patrick Ness. Actress Daisy Ridley, who is best known for playing Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is also attached to star in Chaos Walking (and presumably, its two potential sequels). Set in “a dystopian world where all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts,” the first Chaos Walking book (subtitled The Knife of Never Letting Go) is about a boy (and his dog) who is chased by the local townspeople until he meets a “strange and silent girl” (presumably played by Daisy Ridley). Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) is also already attached to direct, and it’s his RT Tomatometer that is keeping us from calling this particular project yet another “Rotten Idea.”
Although it’s just one part of The Late Late Show with James Corden, in the last year, the Carpool Karaoke segment has become something of a regular internet sensation, with host James Corden joined by such celebrated singers as Adele, Stevie Wonder, Selena Gomez, Sia, Mariah Carey, and recently, First Lady Michelle Obama. Outside television (and viral videos), James Corden has also appeared in several films, including Begin Again, Into the Woods, and this fall’s Trolls. This week, we learned that Corden’s next big film role will be the long awaited Hollywood adaptation of one of British literature’s most popular children’s characters, Peter Rabbit. Corden has signed on with Sony Animation to provide the voice for Beatrix Potter’s beloved character in a live action/CGI hybrid adaptation. Peter Rabbit himself will be animated, while the rest of the world — including a human character for which Rose Byrne is currently in negotiations — will be live action (and modern/contemporary). Peter Rabbit will be directed by Will Gluck (Easy A, Friends with Benefits), who most recently worked with Sony on their remake of Annie.
Earlier this year, Benedict Cumberbatch raced from filming Marvel’s Doctor Strange in New York City back to England, where he very soon started filming the three installments of the next season of Sherlock. Now, as that process nears completion, Cumberbatch has signed on for another project (in addition to his commitments to appear in more Marvel movies), namely an adaptation of the “classic British novel” Rogue Male, by author Geoffrey Household. In the original novel, published in 1939, a British hunter attempts to assassinate a dictator (basically, Hitler), but his effort fails, as he is “caught, tortured, and left for dead.” The screenplay will be adapted by screenwriter Michael Lesslie, who recently adapted the version of MacBeth starring Michael Fassbender.
Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent) has signed to star in an independent drama called Jonathan for director Bill Oliver, who will be making his feature film debut after previously directing three short films. Elgort will play two identical twin brothers, named Jonathan and John, whose agreement to not have girlfriends is challenged when the less responsible of the two (layabout-John) falls in love with a woman (who hasn’t yet been cast). Ansel Elgort also has a few other films on the way, including Billionaire Boys Club, November Criminals, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, and the ambitious reboot of Dungeons & Dragons.
Hollywood isn’t giving up anytime soon on its commitment to remakes, but not all of them reverse the genders of the original characters. For example, the remake of 1973’s Papillon won’t be set in a women’s prison. Instead, the roles originally played by Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman will be played, respectively, by Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim, Sons of Anarchy) and Rami Malek (Mr. Robot, HBO’s The Pacific). The original Papillon was based on the memoirs of a convicted felon, Henri Charriere, who staged an escape from France’s “Devil’s Island” penal colony, but this remake will have a modern setting, which presumably means it will be an escape from some other prison (since that colony doesn’t exist anymore).
The current king of remakes is MGM, which has a rich back catalog (though it’s not like every other studio doesn’t also have a back catalog) and whose recent efforts in that department include RoboCop, Hercules, Poltergeist, and in the near future, Ben-Hur, The Magnificent Seven, and Going in Style. Some actors and actresses even have multiple remakes they’re working on. Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect), for example, is attached to star in a remake of the Goldie Hawn military comedy Private Benjamin, and this week, she signed on for another. Wilson and MGM are now developing a new version of the 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which was itself a remake of the 1964 comedy Bedtime Story. Marlon Brando and David Niven starred in the first version, while Michael Caine and Steve Martin starred in the second. The first two movies were about pairs of con men trying to swindle an heiress out of her money, and the “gender reversed remake” (GRR) will be about two female con artists attempting to deprive a “naive tech prodigy out of his fortune.” It’s not yet known which actress will be joining Rebel Wilson as her partner in crime. We’re calling this one a “Rotten Idea” based on Rebel Wilson’s Tomatometer, which, outside of Bridesmaids and the two Pitch Perfect movies, is otherwise entirely Rotten.
The Weekly Ketchup ostensibly covers ten “stories” each week, but occasionally, we cheat a bit by covering multiple stories at once. This week, there were a couple of headlines about projects hitting snags in their development, and none of them are great news (for people previously excited), so let’s run through all of them right now, shall we? The biggest news was probably the revelation that Angelina Jolie Pitt will not be starring in Kenneth Branagh’s remake of Murder on the Orient Express, as had been previously reported (she had never technically signed on). Branagh is still attached to direct, and star as Hercule Poirot, and Fox is still scheduling the remake for release on November 22, 2017, but the studio is looking for another big actress to replace AJP, with Charlize Theron considered one of the top contenders. This was also not a great week if you had been excited about Barbra Steisand’s return to the director’s chair with a new adaptation of the musical Gypsy. The project was dropped by STX Entertainment, the relatively new distributor which had picked up Gypsy out of turnaround from Universal Pictures. Although the expression is that the “third time is the charm,” in film development, it would be very unusual for a movie project like this to have a third home (though nothing’s impossible). “All they need is the girl.” Our last story is really 44 separate stories, because the movie blog Collider scored something of a coup this week while covering the Netflix series Stranger Things. They were able to get director/producer Shawn Levy and his partner to field questions about almost their entire development slate. As mentioned, 44 movies were discussed, which is way more than we can get into here, but there are a few projects previously covered by the Weekly Ketchup that Levy has confirmed are now “dead.” They include: How to Talk to Girls (the adaptation of the “book” written by a nine-year-old), the Hardy Boys quasi-sequel Hardy Men, the animated version of King Kong, and the Will Smith project The City That Sailed.