This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering new projects for stars like Idris Elba, Morgan Freeman, and Owen Wilson.
(Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon/©Paramount Pictures)
Every once in a while, pop culture hits upon a certain “peanut butter and chocolate” combination that goes together far better than you could’ve guessed. In 2014, that happened when Warner Bros. revealed the very first teaser for their reboot of Godzilla (Certified Fresh at 76%), featuring the ominous voice of atomic bomb creator J. Robert Oppenheimer saying, over scenes of mass destruction, “I am now become death, destroyer of worlds.” (J. Robert Oppenhimer was a very serious dude.) Now, another very serious dude, Christopher Nolan, is preparing his next film after Tenet (Fresh at 70%), and it’s a drama about J. Robert Oppenheimer and his involvement in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II, which led to the destruction of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The screenplay is reportedly finished and being looked at by various studios, which is something of a departure for Nolan, who has pretty consistently worked with Warner Bros. for most of his career as a Hollywood director (not counting his early films like Memento). The reason for Nolan’s interest in shopping around his Oppenheimer drama is being interpreted by press as being directly related to Nolan’s dissatisfaction with Tenet debuting on streaming day-and-date with theatrical, which included Nolan slamming HBO Max as the “worst streaming service.” No definite casting decisions have been made, but frequent Nolan collaborator Cillian Murphy (Nolan’s Scarecrow in Batman Begins, for example) might be in the runnning to star as Oppenheimer. (Cillian Murphy, also a very serious dude).
(Photo by Laurie Sparham /© Focus Features)
While decades like the 1980s and 1960s continue to leave prominent, long-lasting impressions on pop culture, the 1970s offer some pretty amazing relics, too. Consider, for example, the Licorice Pizza record store chain — named for the physical appearance of a vinyl record — which once had 34 locations throughout California until it was bought by Musicland in 1986. This week, we learned that Licorice Pizza happens to be the new title of the latest California period piece (previously called Soggy Bottom) from director Paul Thomas Anderson, who previously gave us the similarly themed Boogie Nights (Certified Fresh at 93%). The trailer appeared at theaters around the world in front of very specific films, such as American Graffiti and Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, suggesting someone chose those films for a reason. The trailer, which hasn’t appeared online (yet), also reveals that Maya Rudolph and Tom Waits, who hadn’t previously been announced, are also part of the film’s cast, which also includes Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son Cooper Hoffman in a lead role.
(Photo by Neon)
The surprise wins for Parasite (Certified Fresh at 98%) at last year’s Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Best Director) are still slowly having an impact, although arguably slower than usual. South Korean actor Seo Jun Park, who had a supporting role in Parasite, recently departed from Seoul to start filming on an unspecified Marvel Studios film, but most sources have guessed that the project in question is the Captain Marvel sequel called The Marvels (11/11/2022). (The Marvels isn’t the only MCU movie currently filming, as the two others are Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania). Presuming it is indeed The Marvels that Seo Jun Park is joining, it’s unclear what character he might be playing, but the fansites already have some good guesses.
(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)
Walt Disney Pictures is currently casting up their next attempt at adapting the theme park attraction Haunted Mansion, which was previously adapted as a 2003 movie (Rotten at 14%) starring Eddie Murphy. Before this week, Tiffany Haddish and LaKeith Stanfield were already attached to star in the new Haunted Mansion, and this week, they were joined by two more stars. On Tuesday, Owen Wilson (who co-starred earlier this summer in Loki on Disney+) joined Haunted Mansion in an unknown role, and then the next day, Rosario Dawson also joined the remake. In related news, the made-for-streaming movie Muppets Haunted Mansion will debut on Disney+ on October 8, 2021.
(Photo by Michael Gibson/STX Entertainment)
Daveed Diggs might be best known for his dual roles in Hamilton (Certified Fresh at 97%) as Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette, but Diggs also co-wrote and starred in the indie comedy hit Blindspotting (Certified Fresh at 94%). Now, another screenplay written by Diggs is reportedly a hot sales package at the Toronto International Film Festival market. Idris Elba, Justice Smith (Pokémon Detective Pikachu), and Taylour Paige (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) are attached to star in the drama We All Die Young, which will be directed by Jake Schreier (Robot & Frank, Certified Fresh at 86%; Paper Towns, Rotten at 58%). Smith will star in We All Die Young as a rapper “in the midst of breaking big” who’s undertaking “the biggest live tour anyone has ever seen” (the screenplay is also drawing comparisons to Fellini’s 8 1/2).
(Photo by Derek Storm, Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection)
Taylor Hackford has a long career dating back to the early 1980s that has resulted in two Academy Award nominations for Best Directing (An Officer and a Gentleman and Ray), but in the 17 years since Ray, his Tomatometer scores have all been Rotten. Hackford may be swinging for the fences with his new film, Sniff, which is described as “a stylish reinvention of the film noir genre” set at a high-end luxury retirement community. Sniff is being sold at the Toronto Internatiional Film Festival this week with four impressive movie stars attached, three of whom have won Academy Awards for acting, while the fourth is a nominee: Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino, Danny DeVito, and Helen Mirren (also, perhaps not coincidentally, Mrs. Taylor Hackford). Freeman will play a retired detective, DeVito will play his partner, Pacino will play a “kingpin,” and Helen Mirren will play his “femme fatale enforcer.”
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Hollywood has a long history of depicting its own relationship with writers and screenwriters, such as Barton Fink, Adaptation, and last year’s multiple Academy Award-winner Mank. A similar (but less common) trope involves the writer of a popular story or character who is wooed by Hollywood to sell the rights, such as with the making-of-Mary-Poppins comedy Saving Mr. Banks. Like Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, George Bernard Shaw was also apparently hesitant about selling a popular play to Hollywood was George Bernard Shaw; his Pygmalion was first adapted as a movie in 1938 (Fresh at 90%) before it was adapted again as the more popular classic film My Fair Lady (Certified Fresh at 95%), which won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (Rex Harrison). The story of how it all started in 1933 will soon be told in the film Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood. Emmy- and BAFTA-winning British actor Derek Jacobi will star as George Bernard Shaw, alongside Dustin Hoffman (as Louis B. Mayer), Sam Neill (as William Randolph Hearst), Eileen Atkins, Aidan Turner (as Clark Gable), and Brittany Snow.
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Teddy Ruxpin was a talking “teddy bear” that was first introduced for the Christmas season of 1985, and it quickly became the best selling toy for that year and for 1986. When “Chucky” starred in the original Child’s Play horror film in 1988, he didn’t look anything like Teddy Ruxpin, but an argument can be made that it was an inspiration (and horror fans have since written Teddy Ruxpin stories online). Teddy Ruxpin himself, however, never got a movie (and the Teddy Ruxpin TV show only ran for one season). Nostalgia is a strong incentive for the movies, however, so DJ2 Entertainment, the production company behind video game adaptations like Sonic the Hedgehog and Tomb Raider, has acquired the film and TV rights to Teddy Ruxpin and is reportedly talking to potential writers with the goal of a Sonic the Hedgehog-style live action/animation movie that would then lead into an animated TV series.