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 Aladdin, Deadpool 2, Dumbo, and Ferrari, and new roles for Tom Hanks, Hugh Jackman, Margot Robbie, and Meryl Streep.
Young actors looking to break out typically have a few options: start out in indies (or, in today’s world, the various online venues), land a role in television, win over a powerful talent agency, or achieve some combination thereof. It’s rare that a casting call for a major role genuinely appears to be open to any and all newcomers. Walt Disney Studios, however, has done this occasionally — see last year’s Moana, a role which eventually went to 14-year-old newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, or the recent casting call for their live action version of Mulan. Well, two more opportunities are now available, as studio is now seeking to cast the leads in their upcoming live action adaptation Aladdin. Disney is looking for candidates who are 18-25, “must be able to sing,” can play characters who are Middle Eastern, and also, “dance experience [is] a plus.” Rehearsals start next month in April, 2017, and filming will take place in the U.K. from July 2017 to January 2018 (six months!). It doesn’t yet have a release date, but the filming schedule suggests either late 2018 or (more likely) sometime in 2019. The film will be directed by Guy Ritchie, who previously helmed such reimaginations of classic stories as 2009’s Sherlock Holmes (and its sequel) and this May’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Disney’s next live action adaptation, Beauty and the Beast, opens next week (3/17/17), and you can read about another such project, Dumbo, further on in this week’s Ketchup.
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have made four movies together (Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, and Bridge of Spies), and as producers they’ve worked together on two HBO World War II miniseries (Band of Brothers and The Pacific). On the other hand, aside from providing the voice for a small robot role in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Meryl Streep has never worked with the prolific director. Well, Steven Spielberg has now signed on to direct a movie called The Post, with both Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep attached to star in lead roles. Like Catch Me If You Can, Bridge of Spies, and Munich, The Post will be a mid-20th-century true story, covering The Washington Post’s role in exposing “The Pentagon Papers,” the documents that detailed the U.S. government’s plans for involvement in the Vietnam War. Hanks will play editor Ben Bradlee, and Streep will play publisher Kay Graham. The Post won’t be happening in the next year or so, however, as Spielberg is currently working on two other movies: Ready Player One (3/30/18) and the fact-based drama The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, which might be released in late 2018 as one of The Weinstein Company’s big awards contenders. Steven Spielberg also made the news this week for teaming up with J.J. Abrams as coproducers on a movie based on a Syrian refugee’s true story, but it’s unclear who will be directing that film.
This past weekend, Hugh Jackman made a strong exit from the X-Men franchise with Logan, which enjoyed a monster opening weekend. We’ve known for a few years now that Jackman’s first big post-Wolverine project at 20th Century Fox would be the studio’s long-in-development P.T. Barnum biopic The Greatest Showman (which recently wrapped filming and is scheduled for Christmas Day, 2017). This week, however, we also learned that it won’t be Jackman’s last biopic, either, as he is now in talks to star in the racing and automobile empire biopic Ferrari, about the life of Italy’s Enzo Ferrari, which has been a dream project for director Michael Mann for 17 years. Noomi Rapace is also in talks to play Ferrari’s wife Linda, and Jackman is coming to the role following the departure of Christian Bale, who had previously been long attached to star in it. Although it was a good week for this new Hugh Jackman project, it was also a bad week for an old one. DreamWorks Animation, as part of their ongoing acquisition by Universal and Illumimination, has now cancelled plans for an animated Australian musical called Larrikins, in which Hugh Jackman had been attached to star as the lead character’s voice.
FX’s Atlanta, which won two Golden Globes in January, has been a boon for its young stars. The show’s creator and star, Donald Glover, is the young Lando Calrissian in next year’s Han Solo prequel, and he’s landed the lead role of Simba in Disney’s new remake of The Lion King, while costar Lakeith Stanfield currently appears in the hugely successful thriller Get Out. This week, another Atlanta star landed a high profile gig; Zazie Beetz, who plays Glover’s girlfriend Vanessa on Atlanta, won the role of Domino in the upcoming Deadpool sequel. Just as various sites began to report the story, Ryan Reynolds confirmed the casting with this post on Twitter. Domino made her debut (sort of) in the same issue (New Mutants #98) in which Deadpool also debuted, except that it wasn’t really her (oh… comics!). The character has been a fan favorite pretty much ever since, and she’s also a key member of X-Force, the team which is expected to get its own spinoff movie from 20th Century Fox in the next few years. Domino’s mutant ability involves a heightened form of “good luck” — one of her names in the comics is “Beatrice,” from the Latin for “luck.” Fox hasn’t yet announced a release date for the Deadpool sequel, but the studio might assign one of its two “Untitled Fox/Marvel” slots in 2018 (June 29th and November 2nd) to it, with the other release likely to be the next X-Men movie.
Much ado was made about Walt Disney Pictures’ acquisitions of LucasFilm and Marvel Studios, but Disney also has its own separate blockbuster factory in the form of the “live action remakes” of their classic titles, the latest of which is next week’s Beauty and the Beast. The bigger story this week was obviously the casting call for Aladdin, but the casting process for the Dumbo remake helmed by Tim Burton also continues, and this week, two different actors made the news for landing human roles, beginning with Eva Green, who recently starred in Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. There’s no word yet as to which character Green will play, but she will reportedly be one of the film’s three “adult” roles. Danny DeVito is also in talks to join the cast as the ringmaster of the struggling circus where Dumbo is born. Finally, this week’s Eva Green news also revealed that Disney had been hoping to cast Chris Pine (Star Trek), but those negotiations fell through. It’s still unknown which role Will Smith would have played if he hadn’t dropped out, or who will be replacing him (though it sounds like it was probably the role they hoped to give to Chris Pine).
Earlier this year, Marvel Studios started production in Atlanta on next year’s Avengers: Infinity War, which is expected to roll right into filming of the fourth Avengers movie, as part of an ambitious filming schedule using most/much of their “assembled” Marvel Cinematic Universe stars. With dozens of actors committed, what will they do on their days off? For at least two of the Avengers: Infinity War stars, the answer appears to be to film another movie at the same time. Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) and Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier) signed on this week to join a political drama called The Last Full Measure. Stan has the lead role, while Jackson joins a supporting cast that includes William Hurt, Michael Imperioli, Christopher Plummer, Linus Roache, and Get Out costar Bradley Whitford. Stan will play “a Pentagon investigator who reluctantly teams with veterans of the 1966 Operation Abilene to convince Congress to award the Medal of Honor to a courageous Air Force medic, William Pitsenbarger, who is seen saving the lives of over 60 Marines ambushed in one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. As the battle waged on, and after the last helicopter left, he continued to save lives until his own was sacrificed.” (And if you’re wondering, “wait, those guys are in Avengers: Infinity War?”, you can read about their involvement here and here.)
When news first broke a while back that there were plans to remake the 1987 romantic comedy Overboard, there were a few possibilities that might have been fairly reasonable guesses. For example, it was reasonable to expect that Kate Hudson would reprise the “spoiled rich girl” role originally played by her mom, Goldie Hawn, or that someone like Chris Pratt might be a good fit for Kurt Russell’s role. If you thought the latter, you would have been close to the right answer… sort of. As it turns out, the Overboard remake is not that simple; the comedy will be “gender swapped” this time around, focusing instead on the story of a “spoiled playboy from one of Mexico’s wealthiest families… who falls overboard off his yacht.” And yes, Anna Faris — Pratt’s wife — will star in the Overboard remake, but she will play a female version of Russell’s character, as a single mom who convinces the amnesiac playboy (to be played by Eugenio Derbez) that he is her husband. Overboard is being remade by MGM, a studio which has made something of an in-house specialty out of remakes, and it will be co-written and co-directed by Bob Fisher (cowriter of We’re the Millers) and Rob Greenberg (of TV’s How I Met Your Mother).
The legends of Robin Hood continue to be a frequent source of new movies (the 2010 movie starring Russell Crowe, and the movie next year starring Taron Egerton). In 2014, there was news that Sony Pictures was developing a “Robin Hood Cinematic Universe,” which would bring us a series of movies about various supporting characters (Will Scarlett, Friar Tuck, etc) who would all share the same world. It’s unclear now if Sony will move ahead with that, but the studio definitely still plans to make at least one movie featuring a secondary Robin Hood character. Sony Pictures picked up the rights to a spec script called Marian, with Suicide Squad star Margot Robbie attached to star in the title role. It’s basically a sequel set in an alternate reality, because it will be set after the death of Robin Hood, with Robbie’s Marian taking over in his role instead. Or, as Deadline put it, “After a conspiracy to conquer England in which the love of her life Robin Hood dies before her eyes, Marian picks up the cause to lead her people into a pivotal war. She comes to power, charging into a battle that will not only decide the fate of the kingdom but will see her don the mantle of the man she loved.” Although she’s appeared in Fresh movies (like The Wolf of Wall Street), Margot Robbie’s recent attempts at action movies have both received Rotten Tomatometer scores (26 percent for Suicide Squad, 36 percent for The Legend of Tarzan).
At one point, producer and director James Cameron had plans to follow 2009’s Avatar with two sequels that would have been released in December of both 2014 and 2015. We’re now over a year past the point when the Avatar trilogy would have been finished, and in that time, Cameron’s plans for the franchise have only continued to grow — there are now four sequels planned. We were led to believe that, starting in December 2018, Cameron would finally deliver the next movie set on the world of Pandora, especially since Disney has been hyping up their Avatar attraction. Until, that is, Cameron confirmed that the second Avatar movie won’t be ready for release in 2018 either. Possibly having learned a lesson about promising concrete release dates, James Cameron now only says that he will be spending at least the next eight years on Avatar. Ostensibly, he means that, by 2025 or so, he will be done with with all of the sequels, but for all we know, eight years will just get us to Avatar 2. The original Avatar will celebrate its 10th anniversary on December 18, 2019.
We have yet to get a video game movie with a Fresh Tomatometer score, but we continue to hope one will come along that breaks the pattern. With that in mind, video game adaptations remain the #1 most reliable reason for us to list a news item as one of the week’s Rotten Ideas. This week’s most Rotten Idea — about a video game adaptation — is a twofer on top of that, as its star, Jason Momoa currently sports an all-Rotten streak. The news is that Momoa is now attached to star in an adaptation of the Just Cause video game franchise that will be directed by Brad Peyton, whose Tomatometer, which is also entirely Rotten, includes such gems as Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (14 percent), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (43 percent), and San Andreas (48 percent). The Just Cause games are best known for their focus on both “extreme sports” (like parachuting and wingsuits) and the standard videogame assortment of guns and other weapons. Momoa will play Just Cause franchise hero Rico Rodriguez, an operative working for a shadowy agency called… “The Agency.”