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 Black Adam, The Emoji Movie, Green Lantern Corps, the Lisa Frank movie, and remakes of both Shaft and White Men Can’t Jump.
We still don’t have a release date for the DC Comics adaptation Shazam, but the earliest we might see it is probably sometime in 2019. We also don’t know who will direct Shazam, or who will play the two heroic leads, young boy Billy Batson and his adult superhero alter ego, Shazam (AKA Captain Marvel, but Marvel owns the title rights to that name). Despite all those unknowns, there is one cast member that we’ve known about for years now, and his attachment continues to arguably overshadow Shazam himself. Dwayne Johnson has been attached to star in Shazam since 2014 as the villain (and/or “anti-hero”, depending upon your perspective) Black Adam, an ancient Egyptian who basically has the same powers as Shazam. This week, we learned that New Line Cinema and DC Entertainment have now started development on a Black Adam spinoff movie, with Dwayne Johnson (unsurprisingly) attached to reprise the character. Presumably, the Black Adam movie will remain a “spinoff,” and won’t end up being released before the Shazam movie does, but considering the lack of non-Black-Adam information known about Shazam, one has to wonder. It’s also worth noting the similarities between Black Adam (created in 1945) and Apocalypse, the X-Men villain introduced in 1986 who is also an ancient Egyptian with god-like powers. X-Men: Apocalypse opened in theaters last May to Rotten reviews, and adjusted for inflation, it earned the second lowest box office of any of the nine X-Men films.
If you go back in time a year (or even further back to 2011), the common consensus about any future Green Lantern movie was that after the box office and critical disappointment of Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds would never play the character again. We say it that way because a funny thing happened about 11 months ago: Deadpool. Defying most expectations, Deadpool was a critical success (Certified Fresh 84 percent), one of the ten top grossing films of 2016, and is now continuing to rack up awards nominations to the extent that an Academy Award Best Picture nomination is now speculated to be possible. Warner Bros and DC Entertainment are now preparing for Green Lantern Corps, which will introduce Hal Jordan and John Stewart to the DCEU (tentatively estimated to be released in 2020, though the characters may appear in another film first). One big sign of this came this morning, with the news of six actors that are reportedly on WB/DC’s shortlist to play Hal Jordan. The names range from two of the biggest stars working today (Tom Cruise, who at one time was attached to star in Iron Man, and Bradley Cooper, who was in the running for the 2011 movie before Ryan Reynolds was cast), to lesser known actors like Community star Joel McHale and Armie Hammer (who would have played Batman in George Miller’s scrapped Justice League: Mortal movie). In the middle are two of the stars of this spring’s sci-fi movie Life: Jake Gyllenhaal and, you guessed it, Ryan Reynolds. Somehow, the success of Deadpool has changed WB’s minds about whether they should necessarily replace Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan (funny how that works!). There’s no word yet about who WB might have in mind to play John Stewart, but Sterling K. Brown has already thrown his name in the mix.
The debut of Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in last year’s Captain America: Civil War received a lot of attention (helped greatly by the fact that Spider-Man: Homecoming comes out in six months, on July 7, 2017). However, when Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios made their deal in early 2015 to collaborate on Spider-Man movies, these live action movies were not the only films included. Sony also immediately started development on an animated movie to be written and produced by the team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the guys responsible for such movies as The LEGO Movie, 21 Jump Street, and the Han Solo spinoff prequel. Over the last two years, there has been speculation about what Sony Animation planned to do with this second “version” of Spider-Man, but until this week, there had been no official confirmation. Well, it’s official now: when the animated Spider-Man movie is released on December 21, 2018, the young hero under the mask will be Miles Morales. Miles Morales got his start in Marvel’s “Ultimate Universe,” after that version of Peter Parker was killed and Morales, a teenager of Black Hispanic descent, took his place. Since then, Miles Morales has also joined (the older) Peter Parker in the main Earth-616 universe (along with Spider-Gwen, but that’s another story). As Lord and Miller put it, “what inspired us the most is that anyone can wear the mask. You can be any race, creed or color.” It’s not yet known which villains Miles Morales will face when he makes his feature film debut next Christmas, or who will be cast to voice him. The animated film will be codirected by Peter Ramsey (Rise of the Guardians) and Bob Persichetti, an animator who worked on DreamWorks movies like Shrek 2, Monsters vs Aliens, and Puss in Boots.
The ABC sitcom Black-ish is now in its third season, and the show continues to be a critical and awards darling, winning a Peabody Award and, most recently, a Golden Globe for Best Actress Tracee Ellis Ross. Black-ish is the brainchild of Kenya Barris, and this week, we learned that Barris is writing and producing a remake of the 1992 hit basketball comedy White Men Can’t Jump, which starred Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson as an unlikely duo of street hoops hustlers. For this remake, Barris is going a different route by casting actual professional athletes, namely Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (in the Snipes role), and Ryan Kalil of the Carolina Panthers (in the title role originally played by Woody Harrelson). Part of the joke here is that, yes, Ryan Kalil is a professional athlete, but he is a football player, and a center, at that. There’s no word yet about when the White Men Can’t Jump remake will start filming or be released.
It was over eight years ago now that we first heard about MGM’s plans to remake the 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (which was itself a remake of the 1964 film Bedtime Story). To put that in perspective, that’s the same week that we heard that Johnny Depp would play Tonto in The Lone Ranger. Last year, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels resurfaced with the news that it would be a gender-swapped remake, with actresses playing the roles originated by Michael Caine and Steve Martin. It was at that point that we first heard that Rebel Wilson would play the female version of Michael Caine’s character. The big news this week was that Wilson will be joined in the comedy, now called Nasty Women, by Anne Hathaway. Wilson and Hathaway will play two con artists who attempt “to swindle a naïve tech prodigy out of his fortune.”
One of the biggest pop culture sensations to come out of Japan’s manga and anime communities the last few years has been Attack on Titan, which is set in a future where giant monsters with exposed bones and muscles start eating the human race. Hollywood keeps trying to find hits in adaptations of manga and anime sensations, with this March’s Ghost in the Shell the next example of this particular phenomenon. The studio that has made the most effort, with projects in the past like Akira (currently shelved) and Death Note (now a Netflix production) is Warner Bros, and this week, we learned of yet another attempt: the studio is currently working on negotiating the rights to Attack on Titan, with hopes to turn it into a live action monster movie. It’s easy to see the appeal for Warner Bros, the same studio behind the current franchise of “monster movies” that started with Godzilla, continues this year with Kong: Skull Island, and will then move on to Godzilla: King of Monsters in 2019, and Godzilla vs Kong in 2020.
It was just last week that we heard that Martin Scorsese’s long-in-development biopic about the life of Frank Sinatra had hit an impasse. That was actually Scorsese’s second attempt at a Rat Pack biopic, after attempts in the early 2000s to make a movie about the life of Dean Martin similarly fell apart. We may never get to see Scorsese adapt the glory days of the Rat Pack, but this week, we learned that there is a completely different member of the group who may get his biopic made relatively soon. After not just years, but decades of development and negotiations, the life rights to singer and actor Sammy Davis Jr. have finally paid off. The project bore fruit through a potentially unlikely pairing, as the two lead producers are Lorenzo di Bonaventura (of the Transformers franchise) and R&B and pop singer Lionel Richie. Richie was quoted as saying, “It’s an honor for me to bring the life of one of my idols and friends to the screen. I’m so grateful to be working closely with the Davis family on this and couldn’t be happier to be moving forward on this passion project.” Sometimes with celebrity biopics, family members disagree, but all five of Sammy Davis Jr.’s heirs are fully behind this biopic. (Finally.)
The decade most associated with “trippy visuals” is obviously the 1960s, but the argument could be made that the ’60s have nothing on the 1980s and 1990s, if only because of a woman by the name of Lisa Frank. You may not know her name, but if you’ve seen the colorful school supplies favored by middle and high school girls (think unicorns, kitty cats, teddy bears, etc), then you have probably seen her company’s work. (Or, alternatively, you could check out the colorful artwork on display on their Facebook page.) It might just be that Lisa Frank, and her company’s artwork, is something that just couldn’t have effectively been a feature film project until the technology caught up with it… and we now live in a post-Trolls world. Which leads us to the news this week that Lisa Frank’s company has indeed reached a deal with a Hollywood producer to make a Lisa Frank movie. We don’t know exactly what the film will be about, but it will be a live action/animation hybrid, and will probably include unicorns, dolphins, ballerinas, kitties, and puppies. Otherwise, what exactly would be the point of making a Lisa Frank movie, right?
We all experience the passing of time in our collective pop culture memory differently, but depending upon your perspective, it might not seem like so long ago that Samuel L. Jackson starred in the remake of Shaft. Well, here’s some breaking news, folks: that movie actually came out 17 years ago, in 2000. As such, it’s arguably just about the right time for someone in Hollywood to revisit the property, especially since the 2000 movie didn’t really set the world on fire (the global box office was $107 million on a budget of $46 million). The rights to Shaft now reside at New Line Cinema, and this week, the studio announced which director they’ve recruited to bring the third version of Shaft to the big screen. That director will be Tim Story, whose most recent films were Think Like a Man, Too, Ride Along 2, and Kevin Hart: What Now? If this third version of Shaft receives a sequel, Story will achieve something quite rare in the modern age, as it would be the fifth film he’s directed to receive a sequel (after Barbershop, 2005’s Fantastic Four, Think Like a Man, and Ride Along). Story’s movies are frequently hits (especially relative to cost), but on the Tomatometer, not so much, with only 3 of his 10 films as director receiving Fresh Tomatometer scores.
We get it; an actor’s got bills to pay, fun real estate to purchase, etc. One would think, however, that Patrick Stewart should be pretty much set, with both the Star Trek: The Next Generation and the X-Men franchises presumably filling his coffers with riches. (Google searches suggest a net worth for Stewart in the range of $60-$70 million.) So, considering he’s mortal like us all, and only has so many years left to turn in quality work, it’s sort of frustrating to hear that he made the sort of “cash grab” that this week’s news suggests. Obviously, movie stars sign on for all sorts of “crap,” but this week’s announcement takes that quite literally. Sony Pictures took to their Twitter account to announce that Patrick Stewart will be providing the voice of the Poop Emoji in The Emoji Movie, the animated movie scheduled for release on August 4th, 2017. Stewart joins a voice cast that also includes T.J. Miller (as the lead character), Maya Rudolph (as the Smiley Emoji), Jennifer Coolidge, James Corden, Ilana Glazer, and Steven Wright. If nothing else, we have to thank Patrick Stewart and Sony Pictures for giving us a story which we can safely predict will STINK.