Today’s Ketchup brings you eleven headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Fantastic Four and Venom, and new roles for Kevin Hart, Jennifer Lawrence, and Seth Rogen.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe as we now know it (The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.) only dates back to the 2008 release of Iron Man, but long before that, Marvel fans had been frustrated by the separation of Marvel movies between studios. X-Men, Daredevil, and Fantastic Four were at Fox; Spider-Man and Ghost Rider were at Sony; The Punisher was at Lionsgate; and Hulk was at Universal. Over time, most of those came back to Marvel Studios, but the Fox films were still separate. The newsfeed-dominating impact of Disney’s acquisition of Fox film and TV properties this week has been the seemingly final step in allowing for a true representation of the “Marvel Universe” in the movies (and presumably TV too). (Though we should note the speculation that this is really all about Disney’s future streaming plans.)
There had been speculation that the Fantastic Four rights might be held up by Constantin Film (the company behind Roger Corman’s original 1994 Fantastic Four), but Disney CEO Bob Iger has confirmed that the Fantastic Four indeed now belongs to Disney as well. Likewise, Iger has clarified that Deadpool can stay R-rated, even as a Disney property. And these points are just the tip of the iceberg about what this deal means for Marvel fans and movie fans in general (See below for even more).
On this year’s Awards Leaderboard here at Rotten Tomatoes, the top five films are: Get Out, Lady Bird, The Florida Project, The Shape of Water, and at #5, Call Me By Your Name. That last film is the third of a thematic trilogy from Italian director Luca Guadagnino (following I Am Love and A Bigger Splash). This week, we learned what is likely to be Guadagnino’s next film, and some of the details are quite surprising. That new film, which will star Jennifer Lawrence, is Burial Rites, based on a 2013 novel by Hannah Kent, and it will tell the true story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman to be publicly executed in Iceland, in 1830. If the film can be finished in time for a late 2018 release, the ingredients are certainly there for possibly one of next year’s big awards season contenders.
Since 2005, a group of Hollywood development executives and producers have produced the results of a survey called The Black List (also subtitled “The Black List of Unproduced Screenplays”). The survey was voted upon by a select list of film projects that have not yet been produced (i.e., they’re still “in development”). Past winners have included such films as The Imitation Game, Recount, Draft Day, and The Beaver. The top of the list this year goes to the Nazi-hunting drama Ruin, in which Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) is already attached to co-star. Sandra Bullock is attached to star in the #2 film, Let Her Speak, about Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster to stop an abortion clinic bill. Other films to do well this year are Newsflash (see below), Kenneth Branagh’s Keeper of the Diary, and the biopic Hughes, about 1980s director John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).
One of the signature career turns for comedians-turned-actors is when they do a deep dive into a truly dramatic role. Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wiig, Robin Williams, and Adam Sandler have all, at some point, made that turn. One of the biggest comedy stars to not yet fully star in a drama is Seth Rogen (not counting supporting roles in Steve Jobs and The Disaster Artist). Rogen’s first major dramatic starring role will be a huge one indeed, as he is now attached to play iconic CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite. The film, called Newsflash, will tell the true story of November 22, 1963, the day on which Cronkite broke the news to the world that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. Newsflash will be directed by David Gordon Green, whose filmography has included Stronger, All the Real Girls, and Seth Rogen’s Pineapple Express.
We are still over three months away from the 3/30/18 release of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, based on the nostalgia-fest novel by Ernest Cline. However, this week Cline revealed that he is currently working on a sequel novel to Ready Player One, though he didn’t reveal any details about it. However, Cline did mention that he was inspired by Steven Spielberg directing the first movie, and that he was able to “bounce ideas” off Spielberg as he prepared to write the sequel. It’s not yet known if Spielberg might also direct a sequel movie. As for what those ideas could involve, obviously direct speculation would involve knowing how Ready Player One ends (which we won’t get into). However, one non-spoiler idea is that Ready Player Two (or whatever it’s called) could move on to the pop culture of the 1990s or 2000s, similar to the way Ready Player One is dominated by references to the 1980s.
Director Guillermo Del Toro has had a series of projects slip away from him, including next spring’s sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising and the third Hellboy. This year, however, Del Toro not only actually got The Shape of Water made, but it’s currently #4 on Rotten Tomatoe’s Awards Leaderboard. This week, we learned that one of Del Toro’s possible future films is a remake of a 1947 film noir classic starring Tyrone Power. The original Nightmare Alley tells a twist-filled story of a carnival barker’s rise and fall in a tale that bears comparison to Tod Browning’s Freaks.
As we get more and more Marvel movies (and this isn’t going to slow down anytime soon), the list of actors who haven’t appeared in them is going to get really slim in years to come. This week, Zombieland and The Hunger Games star Woody Harrelson was the latest to join the club. The new trailer for next December’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse also debuted this week, teasing the idea of Sony’s Spider-Man spinoff movies perhaps being set in that “Spider-Verse” (separate from the MCU). We don’t know yet who Woody Harrelson will play in Venom (10/5/18), except that he will be a “henchman.” (It’s fun to imagine he could actually be playing Carnage.) Harrelson previously worked with director Ruben Fleischer on Zombieland, so that now makes Venom a reunion project for them. As for what Venom is actually about, we learned this week that it’s based on two comic book storylines: Lethal Protector and Planet of the Symbiotes (so, not only is Tom Hardy Venom, but many of the characters might be alien symbiotes?).
Wrestler-turned-actor Dave Bautista has co-starred in a number of sci-fi or action films, including Spectre, Riddick, and Blade Runner 2049, but his arguably highest profile role has been as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel. Career-wise, Bautista appears to be just on the edge of ascending to a career as an action star, possibly in the vein of Jason Statham or just beneath his “Groot” costar, Vin Diesel. The film that just might carry him over to that next box office level was confirmed this week to be an action comedy called Stuber. The title refers to an “Uber” driver named Stu who finds himself commandeered by a detective to be played by Dave Bautista (who presumably will be funnier than Tom Cruise was in Collateral). What we don’t know yet is who will play the title character, but it’s likely to be someone more traditionally “comedic.”
If your perspective of the movie business is only as a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or maybe superhero movies in general, the Disney/Fox deal might seem as the best news since, maybe Disney acquiring Marvel Studios. The bigger picture, however, has larger implications for the movie business. The 2018-2020 slate for the new Disney/Fox is jam-packed, and their competitors may find it even harder to compete (which could mean even less of a focus on smaller movies). Economic issues also include the possible loss Hollywood jobs, which is bad for everyone. The deal could also be bad news for fans of Fox Animation. Even the Marvel angle has its downsides, as “smaller” properties like the proposed sequels to The New Mutants might be edged out as Disney/Marvel/Fox narrow their new Marvel mission. We’ll just have to wait and see how everything plays out.