This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering new titles such as The Color Purple, Enola Holmes 2, and Scream 6.
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Following Disney’s 2019 acquisition of the Fox film and TV properties, most of the rights to Marvel Comics characters are now all under one roof (Marvel Studios), but the biggest outlier is those Spider-Man-related characters that remain with Sony. Sony Pictures continues to develop movies for these characters, which, as of 2022, will include Venom (Rotten at 30%), Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Rotten at 58%) and the upcoming Morbius (4/1/2022) and Kraven the Hunter (1/13/2013). Farther down the road, Sony is also actively developing feature films for Jackpot, Nightwatch, Venom 3, an Olivia Wilde-directed film (that might be Spider-Woman), and the animated sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Part One (10/7/2022). Another title that’s been mentioned in recent years is Madame Web, and this week, that project became much more high profile with the casting of Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson in the title role. In the comics, Madame Web was initially an elderly disabled woman with psychic powers. More recently, the Madame Web title was passed to a younger, more action-friendly superhero (and former Spider-Woman) named Julia Carpenter, so it’s possible that Dakota Johnson will be playing that role (or a combination of the two). The film was written by Morbius co-writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless and will be directed by frequent TV director S.J. Clarkson, whose credits include two episodes of Jessica Jones and a scrapped Game of Thrones prequel series pilot. Madame Web doesn’t have a release date yet, but Sony has two untitled “Spider-Man Universe” titles slated for 2023 on June 23 and October 6, so Madame Web might be one of those. In related news, Dakota Johnson also recently starred in the Sundance Film Festival comedy Cha Cha Real Smooth (Fresh at 90%), which won the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award and was picked up for distribution by Apple last week in a $15 million deal.
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When Disney held their big Investor Day in December, 2020, the slate of dozens of new features for Disney+ promised a future when something new would be on the streamer every week. In a new preview trailer for 2022, their competition at Netflix pulled a “hold my beer” moment, announcing a slate of 86 feature films to debut on Netflix in 2022; that’s an average of at least seven feature films a month. One of those films confirmed for 2022 is Enola Holmes 2, starring Millie Bobby Brown as the title character and Henry Cavill as her more famous detective brother Sherlock in a sequel to the 2020 Netflix film (Certified Fresh at 91%), as Enola takes on her first case as a professional detective. Other titles slated for Netflix in 2022 include Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2/18), Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming (2/25), The Adam Project (3/11) starring Ryan Reynolds, the Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde, Day Shift (starring Jamie Foxx), The Gray Man (starring Chris Pine and Ryan Reynolds), Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Knives Out 2, The Mother (starring Jennifer Lopez), The Pale Blue Eye (starring Christian Bale), The School for Good and Evil (starring Charlize Theron), the biopic Shirley (starring Regina King), Slumberland (starring Jason Momoa), Spaceman (starring Channing Tatum), Spiderhead (starring Chris Hemsworth), Wendell & Wild (starring Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), and You People (starring Eddie Murphy and Jonah Hill). Whew!
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As we continue to suffer the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic a month into 2022, few films not called Spider-Man: No Way Home (which has earned over $1.74 billion worldwide) have had much impact on box office numbers. That said, one other sequel does stand out, as the reboot/sequel (or a “requel”) Scream did open to over $30 million domestically for a $107 million worldwide take after just three weeks. The resilience of the Scream franchise has inspired Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media to make the extremely obvious move and greenlight Scream 6 (title pending) to start filming sometime this summer. Scream (Certified Fresh at 78%) directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet (collectively known as “Radio Silence”) will return to direct Scream 6 from a screenplay by Scream screenwriters James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, Murder Mystery) and Guy Busick (co-writer of Ready or Not). There is no premise for Scream 6 yet, but presumably it will involve at least one killer in a scary mask running around killing people.
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Fantasia is a Grammy-winning R&B singer who first came to national attention as a contestant, and then winner, of the third season of American Idol back in 2004. Until this week, Barrino had not made the jump into acting like many of her peers, but she’s now signed to co-star in The Color Purple as Celie, the role originally played by Whoopi Goldberg in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker. This new movie will be a direct adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that was also adapted from the novel. Going into this week, pop star H.E.R. had already been cast as Squeak, and Corey Hawkins had been cast as Harpo. Danielle Brooks from HBO Max’s Peacemaker has also been cast as Sofia, the role originally played in Spielberg’s film by Oprah Winfrey, with Winfrey herself surprising Brooks with the casting on a Zoom call. Other cast memebers announced this week include Taraji P. Henson as the jazz singer Shug Avery, and Halle Bailey (Ariel in Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid) as Nettie. The Color Purple will be directed by Blitz Bazawule (aka Blitz the Ambassador) from a screenplay by Marcus Gardley (The Chi) and has been scheduled by Warner Bros. for release on December 20, 2023.
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Throughout his career as a director and (especially) producer, Steven Spielberg has frequently collaborated with other filmmakers, such as George Lucas (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future), Francois Truffaut (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Martin Scorsese (Cape Fear), and the late Stanley Kubrick (A.I. Artificial Intelligence). One director who has never worked with Spielberg, however, is David Lynch (Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks). That will finally change, as Lynch has been cast in a “closely guarded secret” role in Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans (11/23/2022). Previously an untitled drama, The Fabelmans is reportedly Spielberg’s fictionalized retelling of his own childhood as a movie fan growing up in Arizona in the 1950s. The ensemble cast of The Fabelmans features Michelle Williams as the mother, Paul Dano as the father, Seth Rogen as an uncle, and several child actors, including Julia Butters (from Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood) and newcomer Gabriel LaBelle as “Sammy,” the movie version of Spielberg himself. The reason for the secrecy surrounding David Lynch’s character is unknown (such as whether Lynch might be playing someone famous from Hollywood, as recently happened with characters in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, which some fans on Twitter are already speculating about.
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Although she is currently only 27 years old, Irish actress Saoirse Ronan has already earned an astonishing four Academy Award nominations, for her film debut Atonement (Certified Fresh at 83%), Brooklyn (Certified Fresh at 97%), Lady Bird (Certified Fresh at 99%), and Little Women (Certified Fresh at 95%). Given how consistently she’s recognized by the Academy, Ronan’s new projects are hotly anticipated, and that’s especially true given her relative slowdown in the last two years, with only Ammonite in 2020 and a cameo role in Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch (Certified Fresh at 75%) last year. We’ve known about Ronan’s next film, the mystery comedy See How They Run for a while now, but we now know her next two projects after that as well. Saoirse Ronan has officially begun filming in Victoria, Australia on the sci-fi thriller Foe for director Garth Davis (Lion, Certified Fresh at 84%), about two young married farmers in the future who discover that one of them has been selected to go live in outer space. After Foe, Ronan will presumably then move on to the drama The Outrun as a “woman fresh out of rehab” who returns to her family’s sheep farm in Scotland. The Outrun will be directed by Nora Fingscheidt (The Unforgivable, Rotten at 40%) from a memoir by Scottish writer Amy Liptrot.
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Every once in a while, competing film projects with similar themes will race against each other to see which one will get made first. When there’s only one movie in the works, and that film is first announced, we often don’t know that there’s going to be a second (or third or fourth) project just around the corner. Such was the case a few months ago in November when Leonardo DiCaprio came aboard a biopic about cult leader Jim Jones, who infamously led his followers in Guyana in South America to commit mass suicide in 1978. As it turns out, if DiCaprio’s movie doesn’t get made soon, it might be preempted by another similar movie, because DiCaprio’s Inception co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Chloe Grace Moretz are now attached to star in a drama called White Night, a thriller about the Jonestown Massacre. Moretz will play cult member Deborah Layton, who was able to escape Jonestown before the massacre, and wrote a memoir about her experience called Seductive Poison. White Night will be directed by Anne Sewitsky (A Very British Scandal, Fresh at 90%) and is expected to start filming later this spring, 2022. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jim Jones biopic does not yet have a filming start date.
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In 1959, when he was 69, Groucho Marx wrote his autobiography, titled Groucho and Me, after which he went on to live another event-filled 18 years before he died in 1977 at the age of 86. Die-hard Marx Brothers fans therefore also consider the 1996 book Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho’s House an important read, as it documents Groucho’s stories from the last few years of his life. The book has bounced around in film development for a while now, including the time in 2015 when Rob Zombie was on board to produce and direct. The Raised Eyebrows movie is active again, with director Oren Moverman (The Messenger, Rampart) now attached instead, working from a screenplay he co-wrote with Steve Stoliar, the author of the Raised Eyebrows memoir and Marx’s assistant from 1973 to 1977. Groucho’s famous profile will be worn by multiple Academy Award nominee (for Shakespeare in Love, Quills, and The King’s Speech) Geoffrey Rush, who actually won an Oscar starring in another biopic, Shine (Certified Fresh at 91%). Charlie Plummer will co-star as Stoliar himself, with Sienna Miller as Groucho’s much younger girlfriend-turned-caretaker. It’s not yet known if Groucho’s younger brothers Gummo and Zeppo will also appear in Raised Eyebrows (Chico Marx died in 1961 and Harpo Marx died in 1964).
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As Hollywood awaits the announcement of the Academy Award nominations in a few days, one of the leading contenders is considered to be Jane Campion’s western drama The Power of the Dog (Certified Fresh at 94%), starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, and Jesse Plemons. Benedict Cumberbatch’s next big movie will be Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (5/6/2022), but this week, he also joined a science fiction drama called Morning. Laura Dern and Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place) will also star in Morning, which will be set in a future in which humanity no longer needs to sleep, so that life is lived in a perpetual morning. And then, ostensibly, something probably goes wrong. Morning will be directed by Justin Kurzel (Macbeth, Assassin’s Creed).
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Just two weeks ago, it was announced that Marvel Studios’ future Captain America 4 star Anthony Mackie will first take a detour from acting to make his directorial debut with a civil rights biopic called Spark. While that project is still being developed, Mackie has also signed on to star in the assassin thriller Ending Things, along with Priyanka Chopra Jonas. Priyanka Chopra Jonas will play a hit-woman who tells her partner she wants out of the assassin business, but the separation is complicated because they are romantically involved. Ending Things is being compared to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s True Lies, though it also sounds a bit like Mr. and Mrs. Smith. In related news, Anthony Mackie has also recently wrapped the medieval epic Desert Warrior for director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes).