This Fourth of July week’s shortened Ketchup brings you another seven headlines from the world of film development news (those stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next), covering up-and-coming titles like The Flash, The Little Mermaid, and the Elvis Presley biopic.
Not counting The Rescuers Down Under in 1990 (since it was a sequel), The Little Mermaid started an era now called the “Disney Renaissance,” which also included Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, all three of which have now received remakes. We’ve known for a while that The Little Mermaid will be directed by Rob Marshall as his next Disney project after last year’s Mary Poppins Returns. We can now report that Ariel, The Little Mermaid herself, will be played by R&B singer Halle Bailey, who with her sister Chloe Bailey is one half of the singing group Chloe x Bailey. Before that, we learned last Friday that Melissa McCarthy is in early talks to play the evil sea witch Ursula, though rapper/singer Lizzo also put her name out this week as an Ursula candidate this week, and this piece suggests other possibilities. Disney didn’t stop there, however, as the studio also cast Awkwafina (Ocean’s Eight) and Jacob Tremblay (Room) as the voices of the animated animal characters Scuttle the seagull and Flounder (who’s not a flounder), respectively. Disney hasn’t scheduled The Little Mermaid yet, but it will come after Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (10/18/2019), Mulan (3/27/2020), and Jungle Cruise (7/24/2020).
When Warner Bros announced their DC Comics movie plans in 2014, The Flash was originally scheduled for release last year in 2018. Of course, that plan also had Justice League Part Two coming out this year, and Cyborg and Green Lantern coming out in 2020, none of which is happening. This week, however, Warner Bros did get The Flash back on track with the news that director Andy Muschietti (Mama) is in talks after delivering the two IT movies for WB subsidiary New Line Cinema. (2017’s IT was Certified Fresh at 85%, and IT Chapter Two comes out on September 6, 2019.) Ezra Miller is still attached to reprise his role from Justice League, and the screenplay is being adapted by Christina Hodson, whose credits include Bumblebee and next year’s Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2/7/2020). The Flash had at one point been expected to be an adaptation of the Flashpoint storyline from the comics, but that may no longer be the source material. The Flash doesn’t currently have a release date, but it will be at some point after Joker (10/4/2019), Birds of Prey (2/7/2020), Wonder Woman 1984 (6/5/2020), and The Batman (6/25/2021).
Following the staggering success of Bohemian Rhapsody and the “pretty good” numbers for Elton John’s Rocketman, the musical biopic has come back in a big way. Jennifer Hudson is attached to star as Aretha Franklin in Respect, MGM recently started development on a Boy George movie, and Universal is also developing a “jukebox musical” based on the the songs of Prince. Director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby) is currently developing an untitled Elvis Presley biopic, and we now know which five actors are in the running for the role. Namely, they include Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver, The Fault in Our Stars), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron), Miles Teller (Whiplash, The Spectacular Now), Austin Butler (MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles), and One Direction’s Harry Styles. Teller is the oldest at 32, while Styles and Elgort are tied for youngest at 25. Harry Styles and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are English; the other three are from California (Butler), New York (Elgort), and Pennsylvania (Teller). Baz Luhrmann is expected to make his decision by the end of July.
This week, as Spider-Man: Far from Home hits theaters, Marvel’s partner on the film released the first trailer for one of their last big movies for 2019, the sequel Jumanji: The Next Level. Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, and Nick Jonas will all be reprising their roles from 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Certified Fresh at 76%). We’ve known for a while that two of the bigger stars joining the franchise will be Danny DeVito (Dumbo, Batman Returns) and Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, Saw), and the trailer reveals how they fit into the movie. The 2017 film focused on four teens who transformed into video game avatars, but this time around, Dwayne Johnson will represent Danny DeVito’s character, and Kevin Hart will represent Danny Glover’s. Sony Pictures will release Jumanji: The Next Level on December 13, 2019, up against the horror remake Black Christmas, and the week before Cats, Fair and Balanced, Super Intelligence, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
It’s not yet been even a year since English-Malaysian actor Henry Golding made his big screen debut with last year’s Crazy Rich Asians (Certified Fresh at 91%), but he’s already getting ready to star in his fifth film. Golding’s second film was A Simple Favor, number three will be this year’s Last Christmas, and his fourth film will be Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen, co-starring Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant, and Matthew McConaughey. The fifth will be called Monsoon, and it will be a drama set in modern Vietnam, with Golding playing a British man of Vietnamese descent who travels to the country with his parents’ ashes and meets an American woman with whom he begins a romantic relationship.
Although Chris Evans wasn’t the only Avengers star to leave the franchise with Avengers: Endgame, he was the first to announce his departure (twice, even). One of this week’s new trailers is for the ensemble-led mystery Knives Out, and Evans will also star in the Netflix drama The Red Sea Diving Resort. The most ambitious post-Marvel project that Evans has been attached to is probably the reincarnation thriller Infinite. This week, however, Evans was confirmed to be departing Infinite, with Mark Wahlberg now in talks with Paramount Pictures to star instead. Wahlberg, 48, will play “troubled young man haunted by memories of two past lives [who] stumbles upon the centuries-old society and decides to join their ranks.” Only five of Wahlberg’s last 15 feature films, have earned Fresh Tomatometer scores.
It’s something of an easy target situation to unconditionally call remakes “Rotten,” but obviously, the director is also a big factor. Consider, for example, writer and director Jeff Nichols, whose films have never received a Tomatometer score lower than a Certified Fresh 83% (Midnight Special), and have reached as high as a Certified Fresh 97% (Mud). Nichols signed on with 20th Century Fox in 2016 to remake the 1988 science fiction police thriller Alien Nation, but this week, Disney officially pulled the plug on the remake as part of their consolidation of their recently acquired Fox properties. James Caan and Mandy Patinkin co-starred in the original Alien Nation as a human police detective and his alien partner, respectively. Disney has notably put Alien Nation on hold instead of putting it into turnaround, which prevents the project from being shopped around to other studios. It’s not yet known which film Jeff Nichols will direct next instead.