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 Alien: Covenant, Deadpool 2, Fast 8, The Invisible Man, and My Little Pony.
Deadpool has only been in theatrical release for less than 24 hours as of this writing, but box office reports are already coming in indicating that the R-rated superhero movie is breaking records, and may continue to do so. Deadpool is also a critical success, Certified Fresh on RT with a score of 84 percent (again, as of this writing). All of this adds up to a validation for star Ryan Reynolds and screenwriters/producers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who have been championing exactly this sort of Deadpool movie for over ten years now. To their credit, 20th Century Fox appears to have quickly learned to listen to the Deadpool team, because the studio has already set all three to start work on a Deadpool sequel. It’s not yet known what the sequel might entail, such as, for example, whether Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth, might actually do some mercenary work in it (the first Deadpool being more about revenge, plot-wise). One possibility is that Deadpool might meet his frequent comic book partner, Cable, who has yet to make his cinematic debut. Cable is also the frequent leader of the X-Force team, and Ryan Reynolds has already started talking about his interest in seeing Deadpool being joined by X-Force on the big screen. To some extent, this is not 100 percent “new” news, as we’ve already heard in the last few years that 20th Century Fox wants to have X-related spinoffs for teams like X-Force and The New Mutants, but the success of Deadpool may make the exact road to an X-Force movie a more obvious path. Some of the other X-Force members, like Cable, who have not yet prominently appeared in movies include Cannonball, Domino, Meltdown/Boom-Boom, Shatterstar, Wolfsbane, and X-23.
(Photo by Victor Chavez / Getty Images)
Following the box office and critical success last year of Selma, there has been much curiosity about what sort of film director Ava DuVernay would take on next. For a while, there was talk of her working with Marvel on Black Panther, but that job has gone to Creed director Ryan Coogler instead. This week, we learned of two different genre projects that have been offered to Ava DuVernay. One of them is Walt Disney Pictures’ adaptation of the Madeleine L’Engle children’s fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time (which is also the first of a series of books that also could be adapted into future films). That project may need more time in development, which might be why it’s the other film in this week’s news which might get produced first. That film is called Intelligent Life, and it’s a science fiction thriller being produced by Steven Spielberg, based upon a script cowritten by Jurassic World director Colin Treverrow. Formerly called The Ambassador, Intelligent Life reportedly follows a government worker in a department assigned with communicating with alien life who falls in love with a mysterious woman who turns out to be an alien herself. Lupita Nyong’o, who played the CGI alien Maz Khanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is now in talks with Amblin Entertainment to play that alien romantic interest. It’s not yet known who Ava DuVernay (if she does sign on to direct) might cast as the film’s male human lead. Filming of Intelligent Life is expected to start this coming summer.
Will Smith’s football drama Concussion may have been a relative non-starter in this year’s awards season, but it’s looking more and more like another such film is being lined up for the next one. For one thing, Warner Bros and New Line Cinema have scheduled Smith’s drama Collateral Beauty for December 16, 2016, going up against Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. With this move, Collateral Beauty is replacing WB’s Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation of the popular novel Ready Player One, which is now scheduled for March 30, 2018. The film’s cast is also growing increasingly awards-friendly, though in something of a thematic hiccup, the newest cast members are predominantly white. Keira Knightley and Kate Winslet are both in talks to join a cast that includes Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Michael Pena, and Naomie Harris. Will Smith will star in Collateral Beauty as an advertising executive who experiences depression following a personal tragedy, inspiring his coworkers to try to cheer him up. Some of the supporting cast members will represent abstract concepts, with Keira Knightley representing “Love,” for example. Kate Winslet is in talks to replace Rachel McAdams, who had previously been attached, and indeed, Will Smith himself replaced Hugh Jackman in this film’s meandering road to production. Collateral Beauty will be directed by David Frankel (Marley & Me, The Devil Wears Prada).
There is no way of telling how long this will last, but already, only a few weeks after the #OscarsSoWhite meme took off again this year, we are continuing to see casting choices changing. One such example is the airplane crash survival drama The Mountains Between Us, which previously had English thespians Charlie Hunnam (TV’s Sons of Anarchy) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) attached to star. Now, 20th Century Fox has instead begun talks with Hunnam’s Pacific Rim costar Idris Elba to star as a physician and mountain climbing enthusiast who uses his skills to save himself and a female writer with a broken leg. It’s not yet known if Rosamund Pike will remain cast as the writer, or if that role will also be recast. The Mountains Between Us will be directed by Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now), and is an adaptation of the novel by Charles Martin.
Amy Schumer only made her debut as a feature film leading lady last summer with Trainwreck, but already the award-winning comedienne and actress is moving towards transitioning into dramatic roles. Schumer has joined the ensemble cast of Thank You For Your Service, the Iraq war drama about PTSD that Steven Spielberg had at one time been considering directing. Instead, American Sniper screenwriter Jason Hall will be making his directorial debut. Amy Schumer joins a cast which includes Miles Teller (as the film’s lead), Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider), Haley Bennett, Brad Beyer, Joe Cole, Omar Dorsey, Scott Haze, Beulah Koale, and Jayson Warner-Smith. We also learned this week that Goldie Hawn will be playing Amy Schumer’s mother in the untitled mother-daughter comedy that Schumer has been developing for a while. It’s expected that this “mother-daughter comedy” with Hawn is a separate comedy than the “sisters comedy” Schumer is cowriting with Jennifer Lawrence.
As the extended Alien franchise prepares to move onto its 8th film, there is by this point a quite extensive roster of actors who have appeared in one of the films. That eclectic group includes Sir John Hurt and Yaphet Kotto (Alien), Bill Paxton and Paul Reiser (Aliens), Charles S. Dutton (Alien 3), Dan Hedaya and Winona Ryder (Alien: Resurrection), and Idris Elba and Charlize Theron (Prometheus), (and that’s without even getting into the two AvP movies). If Ridley Scott’s next film Alien: Covenant, is to Prometheus what Aliens was to Alien, we may have heard this week what actor might be the Covenant counterpart to Bill Paxton’s Private Hudson. (Or this week’s news might be about a completely different sort of character, and this speculation will be amusing to future readers.) That’s because Danny McBride (This is the End, HBO’s Eastbound & Down) is now in talks to join Katherine Waterston and Michael Fassbender in Alien: Covenant. The film reportedly has two comedic “techie” characters, but it’s unconfirmed that Danny McBride will play one of them. 20th Cenury Fox has scheduled Alien: Covenant for release on October 6th, 2017, which is very similar to the 10/2/15 release date of Ridley Scott’s most recent film, The Martian.
It’s now been almost 13 years since Charlize Theron costarred in the 2003 remake of The Italian Job, but with the success of last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road, it appears that Theron will once again regularly have car-themed action movies on her agenda. That’s because the writers of Fast 8 are reportedly developing the film around having one main villain, a woman, and the producers of the Fast and Furious franchise hope that they can recruit Charlize Theron for the role. With the recent news that Fast 8 will be followed by two more films, it’s possible that Theron’s character will continue on in future films, similar to how Dwayne Johnson is now a franchise member. Fast 8 is scheduled for April 4, 2017, and it will be followed by the 9th film on 4/19/19 and the 10th (and possibly final) film on 4/2/21.
This week, we learned a bit more and Lionsgate’s big screen plans for the My Little Pony movie (scheduled for 11/3/17). Most of this comes via the announcement that Emily Blunt will voice a new character in My Little Pony. Emily Blunt is joining Kristen Chenoweth (Wicked, TV’s Pushing Daisies), who will also be voicing a new character created for this animated feature film. Blunt and Chenoweth are joining the voice cast of the TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, with that show’s “Mane 6” all reprising their voice cast roles. Those actresses are Ashleigh Ball (Applejack and Rainbow Dash), Tabitha St. Germain (Rarity), Andrea Libman (Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie), and frequent video game actress Tara Strong (Twilight Sparkle), and with Cathy Weseluck as Spike the Dragon. The My Little Pony movie is being directed by Jayson Thiessen, who has directed most of the episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
We’ve known for a while that Universal Pictures wants to make a new “cinematic universe” out of reboots of their various classic monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, etc.). And it has become increasingly obvious in recent months that the studio hopes to do that using major Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise in The Mummy and (the not yet signed) Angelina Jolie as their Bride of Frankenstein. Even so, it seemed like it wasn’t until this week that film writers and bloggers really woke up to what Universal is hoping to do, which is probably to end up with some sort of movie monster version of Ocean’s Eleven. That’s because Universal Pictures has successfully signed Johnny Depp to star in their reboot of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man. Of course, as the title suggests, even if Depp does sign on, the role may end up being largely a “voice role,” since not being able to see The Invisible Man is sort of the point (although many movies about “Invisible Men” have found ways around that in the past). It’s not yet known when exactly Universal Pictures might actually produce The Invisible Man, with one possibility being that Depp might debut in an earlier “Universal Monsters” movie before getting his own film. The Invisible Man is reportedly being adapted by screenwriter Ed Solomon, whose credits also include Now You See Me (another film about deceiving the eyes), Charlie’s Angels, Men in Black, and Super Mario Bros. We’re calling this one of the week’s Rotten Ideas based on Johnny Depp’s decidedly spotty record when it comes to high concept fantasy/genre roles.
With a number of franchises increasing their film output to at least an average of one film a year (Marvel, Star Wars, X-Men, WB/DC), it’s appearing that this will be a model that more and more studios will begin to follow. The latest example of this is Paramount Pictures’ Transformers, with the news this week that the studio is reserving June dates starting next summer. Paramount Pictures has scheduled the 5th Transformers film (to be directed by Michael Bay) for June 23rd, 2017. The 6th and 7th movies will follow on June 8th, 2018 and June 28, 2019. The news also broke today that the 6th movie is expected to be a solo spinoff movie focusing on Bumblebee. By selecting these dates, Paramount is putting their Transfomers movies up against Wonder Woman (2017), Godzilla 2 (2018), and by one week, The Incredibles 2 (6/21/19). The promise/threat of having a Transformers movie every year is a Rotten Idea, based on the Tomatometer scores for the last three films, two of which were in the 18-19 percent Rotten range.