This week’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news (the stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next), covering such titles as Black Adam, Fast & Furious 9, and Disney’s Pinocchio remake.
Let’s start this story by turning the clock way back to November of 2007. Marvel Studios’ Iron Man (5/2/2008) was still six months away from release (we have, of course, gotten over 20 more MCU movies since then). It was in early November of 2007, however, that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson first signed with Warner Bros. to play the DC Comics anti-hero Black Adam in what, at that time, was expected to be the Shazam! movie (Black Adam is one of Shazam’s main enemies). This week, nearly 13 years later, Johnson confirmed that he will finally start filming his Black Adam solo movie in July of 2020, which will be a few months shy of 14 years after he first signed on. Warner Bros. has not yet announced a release date for Black Adam, but it probably won’t be until either late 2021 or sometime in 2022. The film will be directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who also recently directed Johnson in next year’s Jungle Cruise (7/24/2020), based on the long-running Disney theme park attraction. Meanwhile, Johnson’s next movie will be the sequel Jumanji: The Next Level, on December 13, 2019.
The success last year of Bohemian Rhapsody means that we’re going to continue getting pop and rock star biopics, but Hollywood doesn’t react to new trends particularly quickly. Baz Luhrmann is currently filming his Elvis Presley movie (starring Austin Butler from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), and the next movie expected to get going is Respect, based on the life of soul singer icon Aretha Franklin. Jennifer Hudson has been attached to star in Respect for a while now, but it wasn’t until this week that we learned who will be joining the film’s large ensemble cast. Those stars include six-time Tony-winner Audra McDonald, Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, Academy Award nominee Mary J. Blige, frequent Netflix star Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, and Marlon Wayans. MGM has scheduled Respect for release on August 14, 2020, which will be just two days shy of two years after Aretha Franklin’s death on August 16, 2018.
In August, we learned that former screenwriting partners and Good Will Hunting costars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon would be reuniting in a historical drama called The Last Duel for director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Alien, Blade Runner). Affleck is still attached to star in the film, but this week, it was revealed that he will be taking a supporting role instead, with Adam Driver (Kylo Ren from the Star Wars movies) in early talks to take the other lead opposite Matt Damon. Damon and Driver will star in The Last Duel as two knights in 14th century France “whose bond is tested by treachery and a young woman… forced to navigate the brutal and oppressive culture of the era in order to survive.” Jodie Comer of Killing Eve has recently joined the film as the woman who comes between the two knights. Filming of The Last Duel is expected to start in early 2020.
If you thought you’d seen the last of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow, then… Well, you might be right. The truth is, we don’t really know. What we do know is that Disney is still interested in continuing the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise — or rebooting it, as it were — with producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The production hit a snag earlier this year when Deadpool screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick dropped out of Pirates, but things look to be back on track with the hiring of Craig Mazin (the Emmy-winning creator of HBO’s popular miniseries Chernobyl) and Ted Elliott, who co-wrote the first four films in the franchise. Whether or not any of the series regulars will make an appearance in the new film is still up in the air.
After recently directing a few more adult-centric dramas, Robert Zemeckis (Flight, The Walk, Allied, Welcome to Marwen) seems to be returning to his kid-friendly roots with his remake of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, which Warner Bros. has scheduled for October 9, 2020. Zemeckis has not yet officially confirmed his next film as director, but according to reports this week, he may be returning to Disney for their live-action remake of their second ever animated feature, the 1940 version of Pinocchio. Although described as “live action,” it’s possible that Pinocchio himself may be some form of animated character, especially considering one of Zemeckis’ favored strengths over the last 15 years or so has been stop-motion in movies like The Polar Express, Beowulf, and last year’s Welcome to Marwen. If he does sign on, Zemeckis will next have to start casting Pinocchio, including finding a new Gepetto, following the recent departure of Tom Hanks from the project.
Like many pop stars and rappers before her, Cardi B is actively pursuing film roles to add to her résumé. Just a month after making her feature film debut in Hustlers, she has apparently found her next major film project in next year’s Fast & Furious 9 (5/22/2020). This news came directly from a video that Vin Diesel posted on his Instagram this week with Cardi B at his side. Fast & Furious 9 actually started filming in June, so it seems likely that Cardi B’s contribution to the movie will be one of the last things to be filmed. Diesel posted the video just after another singer, the Latin music star Ozuna, also joined the movie this week. As it happens, Cardi B and Ozuna released a song together in 2017 called “La Modelo,” so it’s possible that their roles in Fast & Furious 9 will be directly connected.
It has now been over two years since Hugh Jackman’s last movie as Wolverine, 2017’s Logan. Since then, Jackman has starred in a musical (The Greatest Showman), a political drama (The Front Runner), and an animated comedy (Missing Link), but what he hasn’t yet returned to are the kind of genre films that made him famous in the first place. That appears to be changing very soon with the news this week that he is reuniting with his Greatest Showman co-star Rebecca Ferguson in a science fiction “noir” called Reminiscence, which is being compared to movies like Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Inception. Set in a future Miami beset by exaggerated climate change, Reminiscence will tell the story of a private investigator (Jackman) who travels into his client’s memories to solve cases.
Last week, the horror comedy sequel Zombieland: Double Tap managed to beat the opening weekend of the original 2009 film with a domestic opening of $28.9 million. It’s not yet known if there will ever be a proper Zombieland 3 (unless everyone involved wants to wait another 10 years), but director Ruben Fleischer is already talking about another direction he’d like to take. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Fleischer said, “I would love to do a Madison standalone movie,” referring to the new character played in Zombieland: Double Tap by Zoey Deutch. If such a movie does get made, it’s not known if some of the other Zombieland characters would also return. THR also revealed this week that an earlier Zombieland 2 screenplay would have featured a de facto Ghostbusters reunion in which Dan Aykroyd would’ve played a zombie version of himself.
Continuing an obvious trajectory, we can now confirm that the DC Comics movie Joker has passed previous record-holder Deadpool to become the top-grossing R-rated movie of all time with a global total of $788 million (and counting). The funny thing is that Warner Bros. may never have seen this particular Joker as a box office juggernaut, especially if this narrative is to be believed, and Warner Bros. really gave Joker a relatively smaller budget because it was seen as more of a “one-off” experiment. One major player who, however, did see this coming was Jared Leto, who played Joker in the first Suicide Squad movie and who reportedly actively tried to get Warner Bros. not to make Joker with Joaquin Phoenix instead of him. Arguably burying the lede, the Hollywood Reporter’s story ends with, “At this point, sources say Leto’s days as the Joker likely are over.” That being said, it’s not yet confirmed that Joaquin Phoenix will return to play Joker again in some future movie, or if someone else instead might take over.
When Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opened to relatively disappointing box office numbers, some writers argued that the sequel was hurt by what’s called the “five-year curse,” which argues that sequels that are released five years later (like say, The LEGO Movie 2 and Godzilla: King of the Monsters) come out too late after the first movie. The problem with that argument, of course, is that there are other examples, like last week’s Zombieland: Double Tap (which came out 10 years after the first), which do just fine despite an even longer gap. The other possibility is that the timing has less of an impact than just the quality of the sequels, or other factors in demand from the target audience. That leads us to the news that Cedric the Entertainer is now producing and will return as the star of a sequel to his 2004 comedy Johnson Family Vacation (Rotten at just 6% on the Tomatometer). The sequel will be called Johnson Family Celebration, and will be set “nearly two decades” later, which suggests a release around 2022 or 2023.