This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as reboots of The Exorcist and Tomb Raider, as well as the new DCU.
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Now that he’s done with his Halloween reboot trilogy (which concluded with Halloween Ends), director David Gordon Green is now busily working on his classic horror franchise reboot, namely The Exorcist (Certified Fresh at 84%). The new film has already had a few cast members for a while now, like Leslie Odom Jr (Hamilton), Ann Dowd, and the mom from the original, Ellen Burstyn, but until this week, we didn’t have a young star to play the likely target of the demonic possession. That role now appears to be filled by 16-year-old actress Lidya Jewett, who is being described as the reboot’s “star.” Jewett is not currently a household name, but she has appeared in over 15 films and TV shows, including Hidden Figures and Black Panther. The first film in the new Exorcist trilogy doesn’t yet have an official title, but it does have a release date of October 13, 2023.
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As promised a while ago, James Gunn chose February 1st to announce the first 10 titles (film and TV) of DC Studios’ new master plan, whose so-called “Chapter 1” has been labeled “Gods and Monsters.” We’ve already covered the full slate on RT, so we’ll just barrel through the titles real fast here. The first thing to note is that Gunn is dividing the DC Comics movies in half, with the new interconnected DCU being separate from the Elseworlds movies like The Batman and Joker: Folie a Deux, which also leads us to The Batman – Part II, which is now scheduled for October 3, 2025. As for the DCU, The Flash will reportedly feature an in-story reset, which will then lead to the already announced Blue Beetle and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. The first film after that will be Superman: Legacy (7/11/2025), featuring a new, younger Superman (who isn’t Henry Cavill). Approximately two years later (so possibly in 2027), the next Kryptonian movie will be Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow. On the movie side, there will also be The Authority, based on the acclaimed series from creator Grant Morrison, and The Brave and the Bold, featuring a new Batman and his son, Damian Wayne, as Robin (at this point, we should point out that Dave Bautista is no longer in the running to play Batman villain Bane). Finally, there’s going to be a new Swamp Thing, which is being described as a horror movie (fitting the “Monsters” part of “Gods and Monsters”), with director James Mangold (Logan) already in talks to direct, although it will be a few years down the road, after Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (6/30/2023) and Mangold’s Bob Dylan biopic A Complete Unknown, starring Timothee Chalamet.
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Last year saw the release of two different new streaming adaptations of Pinocchio: Disney+’s Pinocchio (Rotten at 28%), starring Tom Hanks, and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Certified Fresh at 97%) on Netflix, which was much better received and went on to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. Del Toro is now talking about what his next stop-motion film will be: “The next stop-motion film I’m making is an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, which I’m currently co-writing with Dennis Kelly, and we start the design process in two months.” Previous adaptations of Ishiguro’s novels have included The Remains of the Day (Certified Fresh at 95%) and Never Let Me Go (Fresh at 71%), while his own screenplay work on last year’s Living (Certified Fresh at 96%) earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Collider describes the premise of The Buried Giant as being about an “elderly British couple Axl and Beatrice as they search for their lost son in a post-Arthurian England where nobody can seem to access their long-term memories thanks to a mist that hangs over the land.”
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The idea of turning the popular “scary animatronics” horror video game franchise Five Nights at Freddy’s has been kicking around Hollywood since about a year after the first game came out in 2014. After several creative departures and company shifts (Warner Bros. to Blumhouse), Five Nights at Freddy’s finally started filming this week, as confirmed by producer Jason Blum on Twitter. Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games) will be starring as Mike the Security Guard, with other cast members including Mary Stuart Masterson and Matthew Lillard (Scream, Scooby-Doo), and the film’s director is Emma Tammi (The Wind).
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The 95th Academy Awards are still over a month away, but the film with the most nominations (11) this year is the sci-fi comedy Everything Everywhere All at Once (Certified Fresh at 95%). That was a great movie title, but there are only so many ways another film could spin its format in new directions. The most obvious might be those words’ opposite, or Nobody Nothing Nowhere, which happens to be the title of a new sci-fi comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Octavia Spencer and Lucy Liu. The premise will revolve around Ruth (either Spencer or Liu), “one of the Non-People, human-looking beings designed and trained for the sole purpose of filling in a realistic world for a bland guy named Dave [Gordon-Levitt], the only person that actually exists on Earth. Tired of serving as an extra in someone else’s life, Ruth is ready to demand a life of her own.” Despite the similar title to Everything Everywhere All at Once, this film actually dates back at least as far as 2018, when it was featured on that year’s Black List of Unproduced Screenplays.
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There may never be any scientific basis for the movie trope that is the “body swap comedy,” but the genre persists. The latest such project is an Amazon Studios project picked up last week from a pitch by Max Barbakov, the director of Palm Springs (Certified Fresh at 94%), which was a modern take on the Groundhog Day comedy trope. Nothing else is known about the premise of this new untitled body swap comedy, except that the stars will be Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston. Roberts (55) and Aniston (53) are only two years apart in age; perhaps they’re playing sisters? The two previously worked together on the hoiday comedy Mother’s Day (Rotten at 8%).
(Photo by Ben Rothstein/©Columbia Pictures)
Not counting Emancipation (Rotten at 45%) , which was already filmed when “the slap” happened last year, Will Smith spent most of 2022 on the bench. This week, he and Bad Boys franchise co-star Martin lawrence took to Instagram to announce that they are preparing to start production on Bad Boys 4 (or whatever it ends up being called, though Bad Boys 4 Life is still technically available). The new installment will be directed by the Bad Boys for Life directing team of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who, if things had gone differently at Warner Bros., would be working right now on post-production on their scrapped superhero movie Batgirl.
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In 2021 and 2022, much ado was made about the massive budget that Amazon allocated to their epic fantasy series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Fresh at 83%). One of Amazon’s new projects this week probably won’t end up costing nearly as much, but it doesn’t lack for ambition in other ways. Amazon Studios is developing a new reboot of Tomb Raider, based on the popular video game franchise about adventurer and treasure hunter Lara Croft, after two movies starring Angelina Jolie and a third film starring Alicia Vikander. Amazon’s plans are multimedia, and include not just a new Tomb Raider feature film, but also a Tomb Raider series written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) and at least one new video game, all of which will tie together.
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Sometimes, when Hollywood sets out to make a musical biopic about a famous musician, there is something of a long casting call for potential stars (the Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, and the scrapped Madonna biopics all went through something like this). For Michael, the Michael Jackson musical biopic, however, the Michael Jackson estate has decided to go for a much more obvious option by keeping the role in the family. The role of Michael Jackson in Michael will be played by Michael’s nephew Jaafar Jackson, the son of Michael’s brother and Jackson Five member Jermaine Jackson. Filming of Michael will start later in 2023 under the direction of Antoine Fuqua, who is coming off of the recent Will Smith slave era drama Emancipation (Rotten at 45%).
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Dave Bautista is in the middle of something of a streak of high profile roles, as this week’s movie with M. Night Shyamalan, Knock at the Cabin (Fresh at 67%) is being released soon after Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Certified Fresh at 92%) and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (Certified Fresh at 93%) and before this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (5/5/2023). For his next movie, Bautista is returning to My Spy (Rotten at 48%), a film whose box office was arguably hurt quite a bit by the COVID-19 pandemic when it opened during the summer of 2020. Perhaps for that reason, Bautista is committing to a sequel, which will start filming later this month.