This Week’s Ketchup brings you seven headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Methuselah Man, Moonfall, Popeye, and Scarface.
Increasingly, there are a handful of pop culture franchises that together account for the majority of movie stars (the MCU, the DCEU, etc.), and one of those is the cast of HBO’s Game of Thrones (especially for British and European actors). Two of the more prominent American stars of Game of Thrones were Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) and Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), and this week, they both signed up for the same vampire movie called Good, Bad & Undead. Dinklage will star as the latest in the long line of vampire hunters named Van Helsing, and Momoa will play a vampire who has vowed never to kill again. Teaming up, the two run a grift where they travel from town to town and Van Helsing pretends to defeat the vampire. Good, Bad, & Undead will be directed by Max Barbakow, who made his feature film debut with the upcoming Andy Samberg comedy Palm Springs (Fresh at 100%).
In case you missed the news, earlier this month, it was confirmed that Sony Pictures is now using the awkward acronym SPUMC (Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters) to refer to its different projects based on Marvel Comics characters like Venom, Morbius, etc. It’s no “MCU,” but maybe it’ll grow on all of us. SPUMC refers to the hundreds of potential films that Sony retains the feature film rights to, most of which are characters that were first introduced in Spider-Man comic books. In addition to Venom and Morbius, Sony has been developing movies for Silver Sable and Black Cat (that project may now be shelved), Silk, and of course, the animated sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (10/7/2022). Many of the remaining characters are currently fairly obscure to mainstream audiences, but Sony appears to be betting that the movies are what will make them famous, not the other way around. One has to figure that is why they’re confident with their plans for movies about Jackpot and Madame Web. The first story this week involved TV director S.J. Clarkson (Bates Motel, Jessica Jones), who has been hired by Sony to develop a “mystery” SPUMC project that most sources are saying (without confirmation) is probably Madame Web. In the comics, Madame Web has been the codename of two different Marvel characters, including a former Spider-Woman, but most people seem to think it’s the original Madame Web, who was an elderly blind woman gifted with clairvoyance and other psychic abilities. Sony is reportedly eyeing either Charlize Theron or Amy Adams for the role, which either suggests it’s the second Madame Web, or perhaps the movie is just de-aging the original Madame Web. The second story this week concerned Jackpot, an even more obscure Marvel superhero. Sony has hired TV showrunner Marc Guggenheim, the man behind most of the CW’s “Arrowverse” shows, to start work on a Jackpot screenplay. The character in the comics has a rather convoluted story (including there being two different Jackpots), so there are many different ways the film could go, whatever Guggenheim wants to do with it/her/them.
Especially for big action movie franchises like Mission: Impossible, which take several months to film at locations all around the world, schedules matter, as studios need to know that any given actor will actually be available to show up on set. So as COVID-19 has delayed filming, we’re going to see a few actors dropping out of roles. Case in point: Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road) had been cast as the villain in Mission: Impossible 7, but he has left the project due to scheduling concerns, and he’s been replaced by Esai Morales of Netflix’s Ozark. At 57, Morales is 27 years older than Hoult, which also begs the question whether the character is staying the same or if it’s being rewritten during the hiatus. Mission: Impossible 7 was originally scheduled for July of next year, but the production delays have led to the film being rescheduled for November 19, 2021 (the week after Fantastic Beasts 3).
Ryan Gosling’s most recent studio movie was 2018’s First Man (Certified Fresh at 89%) ( https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/first_man ), in which he portrayed astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned moon landing in 1969. Possibly coincidentally, Gosling is now attached to star in an adaptation of an upcoming (not yet titled) novel by Andy Weir, who also wrote the eponymous astronaut-in-peril novel upon which the 2015 Matt Damon movie The Martian ( Certified Fresh at 91%) was based. This new film will be produced and directed by the team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who have previously teamed up on movies like 21 Jump Street (Certified Fresh at 84%) and The LEGO Movie (Certified Fresh at 96%). The novel reportedly has the code name “Project Hail Mary” and tells the story of a lone astronaut in space who is trying to save the planet.
Back in March when most people started their “stay-at-home” time, a popular meme that went around claimed that William Shakespeare used his own quarantine time during the Black Plague to write King Lear. Although most of us probably just used the extra free time to play video games or binge TV shows, surely some people were actually productive, right? Prolific director, producer, and screenwriter Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s 11, Magic Mike, Logan Lucky) apparently was. In an interview this week, Soderbergh revealed that “the first 6 or 7 weeks of the lockdown, I finished 3 screenplays,” with one of those three projects being “a sequel to sex, lies, and videotape (Certified Fresh at 96%). It was an idea that had been circling for awhile, and I felt like I came up with the way to get back in, and so I wrote it, and I wanna make it.” Sex, lies, and videotape was, of course, Soderbergh’s feature film debut back in 1989, which was also one of the Sundance Film Festival’s earliest crossover hits. It’s not yet known if the sequel centers on the same characters originally played by James Spader, Andie MacDowell, and Peter Gallagher, or whether any of those actors will return. (Given how recently Soderbergh apparently came up with the concept and wrote it, it’s possible he hasn’t even talked to them yet.)
Just two weeks ago, we received our most recent and firmest confirmation that a Scream 5 is actually going to happen soon because Neve Campbell confirmed that she’s been approached about returning as Sidney Prescott. Campbell is one third of a core trio of Scream franchise regulars along with David Arquette and Courtney Cox, and this week, Arquette also signed on to reprise his role as Sheriff Dewey Riley in the new movie. The fifth Scream movie will be directed by the team called Radio Silence, which most recently gave us last summer’s Ready or Not (Certified Fresh at 88%). Unfortunately, Wes Craven is no longer around to be involved with the project, but original Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson is now on board as executive producer. You can read more on Everything We Know about Scream 5 right here.
It feels like a third Legally Blonde has been in development for nearly all of the seventeen years since 2003’s Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (Rotten at 37%). This week’s news suggests that we’re going to have to wait a bit longer yet, but it’s also positive news for fans in general. Mindy Kaling and TV screenwriter Dan Goor (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks & Recreation) have been hired by MGM to write Legally Blonde 3, possibly starting from scratch. Reese Witherspoon will indeed return as lawyer Elle Woods, but no other details are known about the premise (such as, for example, whether Kaling might also co-star). In somewhat related news, original Legally Blonde screenwriters Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith have been hired by Warner Bros. to start work on a remake of their 1979 comedy hit 10 (Fresh at 68%), starring Dudley Moore and Bo Derek.
To his credit, pop star-turned-actor Nick Jonas has arguably been one of the highlights of the two most recent Jumanji movies, and soon he’s going to get the opportunity to see if his charisma can carry an entire action movie. Jonas and Laurence Fishburne have both signed on to star in the comic book adaptation The Blacksmith for action director Pierre Morel (Taken, Peppermint, From Paris with Love). Jonas will star in the thriller as a weapons expert for the intelligence community (sort of like Q from the James Bond movies) who has to go on the run when his lab is destroyed and his secret agent coworkers are murdered. Fishburne will play the weapons expert who formerly had the Blacksmith’s job, and Jonas will also be joined by a female lead, but that role hasn’t yet been cast yet.
With his World War II movie Midway in theaters last November, action and disaster movie director Roland Emmerich has turned his attention towards the disaster movie Moonfall, which is exactly what it sounds like (basically, Armageddon but with the Moon). Last week, Josh Gad became the first cast member to join what will end up being a large ensemble cast, and this week, he was joined by one of the original X-Men, Halle Berry. Berry will reportedly play a former astronaut who is now a NASA administrator, no doubt pacing about in a busy control room as reports of hazard and imminent destruction come down from the crew attempting to put the Moon back in orbit. Lionsgate reportedly hopes to release Moonfall in 2021 following a production start in Montreal in the fall (depending upon COVID-19 delays). For the trivia buffs out there, this year marks the 20th anniversary since the last time a film directed by Roland Emmerich scored a Fresh Tomatometer score, with The Patriot (Fresh at 61%) in 2000.
There is a longstanding argument to be made that the best candidates for movies to be remade are films that were “bad” the first time around. On the other hand, there is often a reason why a movie receives bad reviews, and sometimes, that reason has to do with the premise itself. In the case of the 1991 family comedy Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead ( Rotten at 36% ), the title may have also been a big part of the negative reaction, but it was at least memorable. With that in mind, a remake of Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead is indeed now in development with the twist this time around being that it will feature an African American family (Christina Applegate starred in the original). The remake will be directed by Bille Woodruff, whose filmography includes Honey (Rotten at 21%), Honey 2 (Rotten at 10%), and the Queen Latifah comedy Beauty Shop (Rotten at 38%).