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 Panther, Dune, Highlander, Mortal Kombat, and the Dick Cheney biopic.
You never know which way casting news is going to go on a big project, even if you’ve been following the casting calls. For example, it seemed like we had a pretty good idea who would play the female lead in the Han Solo spinoff prequel (5/25/18); the names we had heard were actresses Zoe Kravitz (X-Men: First Class), Tessa Thompson (Creed), and Naomi Scott (2017’s Power Rangers). That they are all women of color is part of why people guessed the role would be Sana Starros, which was never actually confirmed. The actress who has, in fact, landed this plum role opposite Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo) and Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian) is instead someone who we hadn’t heard was in the running at all. Emilia Clarke, AKA Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, has been cast as the female lead in the Han Solo movie, potentially as his romantic interest. This news brings us an update (not that it matters now that Clarke has the job) that other actresses who were considered included: Jessica Henwick (one of the Sand Snakes on Game of Thrones) and Latin American Adria Arjona (TV’s Person of Interest). Whatever this prequel ends up being called (we’re still partial to Han Solo: A Star Wars Story), it will be directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the guys behind 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie. In related news, it sounds like there won’t be an opening crawl on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and by extension, maybe not on any of the “Star Wars Anthology” films (like the Han Solo movie).
When Angela Bassett starred as Amanda Waller in 2011’s Green Lantern, some Marvel fans were saddened at the thought it potentially discounted the possibility that the talented actress might ever be in an MCU movie. Those fans received some encouragement when Viola Davis took over the role in August’s Suicide Squad (and by extension, the rest of the DCEU movies, presumably), and now they really have a reason to be excited, because Bassett is joining the MCU after all! The Malcolm X costar and frequent American Horror Story star has signed on to appear in Black Panther (2/16/18) as the mother of T’Challa, the title character played by Chadwick Boseman. It’s worth noting that back in the 1990s, Bassett had reportedly been considered for the role of Storm in the X-Men franchise that went to Halle Berry instead. Filming of Black Panther will start in early 2017.
Unless you have young kids or work in a library or book store, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the Warriors series. The franchise, which now stretches across dozens of books (36 to date!) written by four authors under the pseudonym “Erin Hunter,” is sort of a huge deal. The Warriors chronicles the tales of a group of cats who are engaged in several epic adventures. It’s sort of like the Redwall series, but with cats, and written slightly differently (in this writer’s opinion) to appeal to today’s kids. Regardless of whether or not you’ve heard of Warriors, the series is coming to movie theaters, probably as a multi-film franchise, and it looks like the choice of producer (and possible director for future sequels) will be a huge deal. Producer David Heyman (The Legend of Tarzan, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the last few Harry Potter movies) has signed on to produce the first Warriors movie for the Chinese company Alibaba Pictures Group. Heyman is currently looking for both screenwriters and a director for the first Warriors movie and any potential sequels.
There are currently two live action adaptations of Winnie the Pooh, each racing to get made before the other. Before this week, we knew that Domhnall Gleeson (About Time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Margot Robbie were attached to star in the British production, called Goodbye Christopher Robin. Well, Harley Quinn has competition from the Mouse House, because we learned this week that Disney’s own live action reboot of their Winnie the Pooh franchise is called just Christopher Robin, and to get that movie made, Walt Disney Pictures has hired frequently Certified Fresh director Marc Forster (Stranger Than Fiction, Finding Neverland, World War Z). Disney has also already hired screenwriter Alex Ross Perry to work on Christopher Robin. It’s not currently known which movie will start filming first, but as they say, “the game is afoot!”
It’s not unheard of for directors to change the direction of their film career, but few have made as drastic a shift as Adam McKay. Before last year, McKay was the director of such wacky comedies as Step Brothers and the two Anchorman movies, but then he directed The Big Short and started developing other topical/series dramas, like the one he’s planning about the Theranos controversy. Well, just two weeks after the also controversial 2016 presidential election results, Adam McKay is now developing a film that seems to fit right in with Hollywood’s mood about our next president. McKay is going to write and direct a biopic about the life of former Vice President Dick Cheney, to be produced by Brad Pitt.
It’s now been over seven years since Summit Entertainment started development of their reboot of the Highlander, about a race of immortal warriors who seek to kill each other off. That original 1987 film, starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery, was quite lucrative, spawning four sequels, a long running TV series, and more. Well, the reboot seems closer to being realized with the news this week that Lionsgate has hired director Chad Stahelski, who codirected the first John Wick and recently wrapped filming his solo directorial debut on the sequel, John Wick: Chapter 2 (2/10/17). His former collaborator also received news of a big next project, with the confirmation (after being rumored/in talks) that David Leitch will be directing the Deadpool sequel (possibly called Deadpool and Cable). 20th Century Fox hasn’t given that sequel a release date yet, but it’s possibly one of these recently announced dates: November 2, 2018 or February 14, 2019 (Valentine’s Day!).
French director Yann Demange scored several awards, and twice as many nominations for his 2014 film titled ’71. For his second film, Demange is coming to the USA to direct a Detroit-set true story called White Boy Rick, about a drug dealer in the 1980s. You can read the original article which inspired this movie right here. We don’t yet know which young actor Demange will cast as the title character, but we know who’s probably going to play his dad. Matthew McConaughey is now in talks to play the father of White Boy Rick, “a blue-collar factory worker trying to keep his family together as the automotive industry collapses around him in Detroit.”
One has to wonder if science fiction author Frank Herbert had any real idea what he was starting when he wrote the 1965 novel Dune, about the galactic struggle for control of a desert planet where a mind-altering (and space travel enabling) drug is produced by giant sandworms. Surely, like many sci-fi authors, Herbert probably anticipated writing sequels, but could he have imagined over twenty novels, a David Lynch movie, and two different SyFy mini-series? The idea of a Dune reboot (trying to fix what people perceive as “problems” with David Lynch’s 1984 film) has been kicked around for several years now, including a period when Arrival director Denis Villeneuve was considering doing it. We still don’t know of another director who might want to tackle Dune again, but we can report it will probably be produced by Legendary Pictures (Warcraft, 300, Godzilla), who has acquired the film and TV rights to Herbert’s first Dune novel, which begs the question of whether they also acquired the rights to any of those 20+ sequel novels.
CThe Mortal Kombat video game adaptation franchise sort of came to a crashing halt with Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, which was both a critical and box office flop. Well, as of next year, that will have been 20 years ago, and New Line Cinema is preparing a return to the Mortal Kombat arena. One indication the studio received that Mortal Kombat had potential as a 21st century franchise was that fans continued to create YouTube video shorts, which attracted tens of millions of views. With that in mind, New Line has hired commercials director (Halo, PlayStation, Range Rover) Simon McQuoid to make his feature film directorial debut with the first Mortal Kombat reboot.
This January, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter will presumably bring an end to the popular video game adaptation franchise Resident Evil, some 15 years after it began. As for what Resident Evil producer and director Paul W.S. Anderson will do next, he and his associates already have plans. Anderson is currently in advanced talks with the video game publisher Capcom (also the company behind Resident Evil) about starting a new franchise based on the Monster Hunter games. The title is pretty self-explanatory.