These days, it’s exceedingly difficult to surprise movie fans who have the will and inclination to scour the internet for details on their favorite films. Phenomena like The Cloverfield Paradox, which premiered both a trailer and the actual film on Netflix on the same day as the Super Bowl this year, are rare. That said, another franchise benefitting from “clever marketing” is Fox’s Deadpool, whose star Ryan Reynolds is willing to go to Tom Cruise-y lengths to sell his movies. Over the weekend, 20th Century Fox announced release dates (and changes) for films like Alita: Battle Angel (from 12/21/2018 to 2/14/2019), Dark Phoenix (from 2/14/2019 to 6/7/2019), and Gambit (3/13/2020). The backwards shift of those first two was to make room for an untitled Deadpool movie, which early speculation suggested was probably a PG-13 version of this year’s Deadpool 2. And then things got weird: Reynolds released a photo of Deadpool dressed in Christmas garb and reading to Fred Savage, a la 1987’s The Princess Bride. That led to this story that the title is actually The Deadpool Before Christmas, although exactly what the movie will be is murky. Speculation includes a Christmas-themed remix of Deadpool 2, both Deadpool and its sequel, or maybe even an entirely new movie (that’s less likely). In related news, Ryan Reynolds has also signed on to star as a video game NPC (non-playable character) in a movie called Free Guy for director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Real Steel). You can also read more about the long-in-development Gambit, now scheduled for Valentine’s Day weekend 2020, here.
Within a year of the releases of one of his signature two-movie spates (The Post and Ready Player One), director Steven Spielberg already has two more on his docket: Indiana Jones 5 (for July 9, 2021) and his long-planned remake of the musical West Side Story. For those who know the latter best from the 1961 film, the characters Maria and Anita may perhaps stand out due to the performances of Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno, respectively, but two of the most iconic songs (“Something’s Coming” and “Maria”) are actually sung by the play’s male lead, Tony. Perhaps that’s why Spielberg has cast his Tony first, in the form of Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver, The Fault in Our Stars). No release date has been set for West Side Story yet, but the production is expected to start filming in the summer of 2019 (suggesting a release in 2020). The dance choreography will be overseen by recent Tony Award-winner Justin Peck, who won for another revival project, Carousel.
We’re one week out from the release of the Apollo 11 movie First Man, starring Ryan Gosling, about NASA’s arguably greatest triumph. Part of what makes stories like First Man especially poignant is that they frequently came about at the expense of great sacrifice and, in some cases, terrible tragedy, and one of the most well-remembered of these moments is about to become a movie. Michelle Williams (in theaters this weekend in Venom) is now attached to star as teacher-turned-astronaut Christa McAuliffe in The Challenger, about the doomed January 28, 1986 launch. In a bizarre twist of fate, McAuliffe’s participation in this mission also meant that millions of children around the world were watching as the space shuttle exploded 73 seconds into the air. Danish director Martin Zandvliet (Land of Mine) is scheduled to start production on The Challenger in May, 2019.
There is little indication that Walt Disney Pictures ever plans on slowing down their efforts to remake their various classic animated hits into live action. Having said that, how exactly does one define “classic?” It takes a few years for most ambitious movies to get produced, so any movie announced in 2018 is unlikely to be released until the 2020s, which means the 21st century is now in play. 2022, for example (and this may make some readers feel old), will mark the 20th anniversary of the sci-fi comedy Lilo & Stitch. As you can guess from all of this buildup, Walt Disney Pictures is now developing a remake of Lilo & Stitch, which, like next year’s The Lion King, will actually be a hybrid of both live-action (the humans) and CGI characters (the aliens, including Stitch). It’s not yet known if Lilo & Stitch is planned as a theatrical release or one on Disney’s upcoming streaming service (the destination of Lady and the Tramp and The Sword in the Stone), though the budget and scope of Lilo & Stitch probably lends itself more towards a theatrical release. If you’ve lost track of all of Disney’s planned remakes of their animated classics, you can find a lengthy guide to the projects over at Collider.
Author C.S. Lewis wrote seven books in the series The Chronicles of Narnia, the most famous of which was The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. That book was adapted as a live-action film in 2005, and it was followed in 2008 and 2010 by Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The fourth film in that cycle had been planned to be The Silver Chair, but this week brought news that suggests the entire Narnia franchise may soon be rebooting. Netflix has signed a deal with The C.S. Lewis Company to take over the development of the Chronicles of Narnia with an eye towards producing both TV series and feature films. This new deal is reportedly the first time that the rights to all seven novels have been held by the same company and/or studio. Netflix is reportedly looking at The Chronicles of Narnia as an opportunity to develop its own massive cinematic universe comparable to such properties as Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As much as biopics constitute a genre, film development history is littered with musical biopics that have yet to come to fruition (Janis Joplin and Frank Sinatra being two of the biggies), but there are a few about standup comedians that are also still struggling. The two that have been in development the longest involve Sam Kinison (Brother Sam) and Richard Pryor (Is It Something I Said?), but we can now add George Carlin to the mix with the news that a biopic for him is now being developed. It’s unclear if the George Carlin biopic is being developed for a theatrical release, premium cable (such as HBO), or streaming. The screenwriter currently attached is Stan Chervin (who received a story credit on 2011’s Moneyball). In addition to numerous comedy albums and TV specials, George Carlin also worked in both film (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and television (Shining Time Station). Two of his most famous routines involved “stuff” and the 7 words you can’t say on TV.
It was just last week that we reported that Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn will be joined in Birds of Prey by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jurnee Smollett-Bell as the Huntress and Black Canary, respectively, but Birds of Prey is known to feature a quartet of DC Comics female characters, which means that we were still left with the role of Gotham City Police Detective Renee Montoya yet to be announced. Last week, the two names that were mentioned for Renee Montoya were Justina Machado (Six Feet Under, One Day at a Time) and Roberta Colindrez (Vida), but the role is going to a completely different actress instead. Rosie Perez, who first came to fame as the female lead in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing with her memorable way of exclaiming, “Mookie!” (and more recently, for her stint on The View), will co-star in Birds of Prey whenever it’s eventually released. The film doesn’t have a release date yet, but filming is scheduled to start in early 2019 under the direction of Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs, Fresh at 100%).
It was actually over a year ago that we first heard Chris Evans was ending his run as Captain America with next year’s Avengers 4 (5/3/2019). We still don’t know exactly what that means (time travel back to the 1940s? a heroic sacrifice? recasting?), but Evans confirmed this week that he’s wrapped his portrayal of Cap after eight years in the role. (For a fun rewind, here’s the Weekly Ketchup’s original report of his casting back in 2010.) Evans offered his farewell to fans in a Tweet that read, in part, “Officially wrapped on Avengers 4. It was an emotional day to say the least. Playing this role over the last 8 years has been an honor.” You can see how some fans reacted here. For what it’s worth, in the comics, the role of Captain America has passed down to both “Bucky” (Sebastian Stan) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and neither Stan nor Mackie have announced plans to leave the Marvel Cinematic Universe (yet). In related news, Chris Evans also signed on this week to join Daniel Craig in a murder mystery called Knives Out for director Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), but it’s his wistful goodbye to the MCU that makes this a “Rotten Idea.”
Two more actors have joined Kenneth Branagh’s second Agatha Christie adaptation (after last year’s Murder on the Orient Express), and they’re big ones. Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger) have signed on for Branagh’s remake of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile., in which he’ll reprise his role as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The 1978 adaptation of Death on the Nile featured an all-star ensemble that included Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, George Kennedy, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, Maggie Smith, and Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot. Gal Gadot will be stepping into the role played in 1978 by Moonraker “Bond Girl” Lois Chiles. 20th Century Fox has scheduled Death on the Nile for December 20, 2019 (up against Cats and Star Wars Episode IX).
It’s not easy deciding which story should be the “Rotten Idea of the Week,” but Hollywood occasionally makes it a little easier. We’ve frequently referenced the awful track record of video game adaptations on the Tomatometer, and though we have yet to see a feature film cross over into Fresh territory, Hollywood keeps trying. The latest video game franchise to be added to list is Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution. Since 1998, players on over a dozen different consoles (and arcade units) have been dancing on colored arrows under their feet, and presumably, that’s what a Dance Dance Revolution movie would be about, too. Or perhaps the arrows themselves will be characters. Who knows?