Today’s Ketchup brings you another set of headlines from the world of film development news, covering movies with new roles for Richard Madden, Jessica Chastain, Michael Rooker, Elisabeth Moss, and more.
Ever since Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn signed on to direct Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ The Suicide Squad, there have been rumblings that at least one of his Marvel stars would join him. For a while, there was word that might be Dave Bautista as Peacemaker, until recent news that the role will likely go to fellow professional wrestler John Cena instead. Today, we learned that James Gunn still might reunite with one of his Guardians stars, with Michael Rooker now in talks to play the monstrous villain, King Shark. If you’re a fan of TV’s The Flash, you might recall that King Shark has had some pretty cool scenes on that show. The Suicide Squad cast will also include Idris Elba, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Warner Bros. has scheduled The Suicide Squad for August 6, 2021. Gunn is expected to return to Marvel Studios for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 after he wraps on the DC flick, suggesting a Guardians release date no sooner than 2022.
We’re now within 10 days of the end of HBO’s Game of Thrones, so we’re in the midst of a wave of new roles for those many actors. The biggest story for a Game of Thrones favorite this week however was for someone whose last episode was nearly six years ago. Richard Madden, who played Robb Stark, the onetime King in the North, is now in talks with Marvel Studios about starring in The Eternals. If he signs on, Madden would be playing Ikaris, who, in the comics, has been a leader of the Eternals in the past. Angelina Jolie is also starring in The Eternals as Sersi (a long-running member of the Avengers in the late 1980s and early 1990s). Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, HBO’s Silicon Valley) and South Korea’s Ma Dong-Seok are also attached to play unknown characters. There have also been reports that Marvel is looking to cast an openly gay Asian actor, but that role appears to have not yet been cast. The Eternals will be directed by Chloe Zhao (The Rider, Songs My Brothers Taught Me), whose two films to date both have Tomatometer scores above 90%. There is no official release date for The Eternals yet, but if the filming start dates align with the Marvel’s put out, it might be November 6, 2020 (after Black Widow, which might come out May 1, 2020).
Every once in a while, a massive story will come out which is actually several all rolled into one. This week, Disney announced dozens of release dates (or changes), including some pretty seismic revelations. Last September, we heard that Disney planned on slowing down the release of their Star Wars franchise, and we now officially know that there will be a three year gap after this December’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Then, starting with December 16, 2022, there will be Star Wars movies every two years; the next two will arrive in theaters on December 20, 2024 and December 18, 2026. What we don’t know is what these Star Wars movies actually are. It’s known that Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) has plans for a new Star Wars trilogy. Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are also developing a trilogy which is rumored to be set in the Old Republic period most seen to date in various video games. (You can check out a breakdown of five places we think the Star Wars franchise can go in the 2020s here.) We think that some of the release date changes are “Rotten Ideas,” so please continue to that section to read more.
Chadwick Boseman has starred in a few movies now where he was a “first.” Boseman played baseball groundbreaker Jackie Robinson in 42, he played Thurgood Marshall (the first African American Supreme Court Justice) in Marshall, and of course, Black Panther was a significant first. This week, Boseman signed on for another first in the historical drama Yasuke, in which he will portray the first African samurai in Japan. The historical Yasuke was a Portuguese retainer of Mozambique heritage who was brought to Japan as a slave in the 16th century, making him “the first black man to set foot on Japanese soil, [as] Yasuke’s arrival aroused the interest of Nobunaga, a ruthless warlord seeking to unite the fractured country under his banner.” It’s not yet known who will be directing Yasuke.
Marvel Studios has tapped so many top stars (and helped others become stars) that a bunch of new films feature those names. Acclaimed New Zealand director Jane Campion (The Piano) hasn’t directed a feature film in 10 years (2009’s Bright Star), and she is now preparing to direct The Power of the Dog, an adaptation of the 1967 novel by Thomas Savage. For this film, Campion has cast Benedict Cumberbatch (Marvel’s Doctor Strange) and Elisabeth Moss of the acclaimed Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale. Like 1994’s Legends of the Fall, The Power of the Dog is a story of ranchers in Montana, with Cumberbatch playing a wealthy Montana rancher who engages in a relentless war against his brother’s son from a secret marriage to a local widow (played by Moss). The brother and son characters have yet to be cast.
Nearly 20 years before acclaimed celebrity documentaries like Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and RBG, one of the most successful early documentaries in that style was 2001’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye, about televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. Fox Searchlight is preparing to produce a dramatic biopic about Tammy and husband Jim, to also be titled The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Attached so far are Jessica Chastain (IT: Chapter Two, Dark Phoenix) and Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man). Director Michael Showalter (The Big Sick) will be working from a screenplay adapted from the documentary. There’s no word yet about which makeup artist will be hired to work on The Eyes of Tammy Faye, but whomever it is might automatically be in the running for a Hair and Makeup Oscar.
Chris Hemsworth is proving himself a master at comedic chemistry – witness the splendor of Lebowski Thor – and a great foil to a strong female co-star (he will be back on screen with Ragnarok co-star Tessa Thompson in Men in Black: International this summer). The latest female star to sign on to test Hemsworth’s on-screen charisma and comedic chops is Tiffany Haddish, whose career has been blowing up ever since 2017’s Girls Trip. Haddish and Hemsworth will costar together in the “buddy cop comedy” Down Under Cover, with Haddish playing a cop who teams up with an undercover male stripper police detective.
Back in the early 2000s, Spyglass Entertainment was a prolific production company which provided Disney’s Touchstone with many of its hits, including The Count of Monte Cristo, Shanghai Noon, and 1999’s The Sixth Sense. Spyglass is back in business again as an independent company called the Spyglass Media Group and in the market for new franchises. Their first major project was announced this week: a reboot of the prolific horror series Hellraiser, featuring the erotic horrors of Pinhead and his Cenobite collaborators. When Hellraiser came out over 30 years ago in 1987, there was nothing like it, but since then, movies like Saw and Hostel have made the “torture porn” horror subgenre almost ubiquitous. Hellraiser is poised to make a big return, and the job of adapting Hellraiser for a new generation is going to David S. Goyer, the screenwriter behind comic book adaptations like Blade, The Dark Knight, and Man of Steel, and this year’s Terminator: Dark Fate. It’s not yet known exactly how Goyer will reboot Hellraiser.
Pretty much every week, there are new release dates or changes for upcoming movies, but usually it’s only for a handful of films. This week, Disney announced such a massive slate of new dates and changes that it’s had sort of a tsunami-like impact on the calendar. Disney recently finalized its acquisition of Fox’s film properties, and part of its ongoing plan is to slow Fox releases down to 5-6 films a year (cut in half from 12 in 2018). Many Fox films are therefore being delayed or outright canceled. For example, The New Mutants (the last Fox/Marvel movie before Marvel Studios takes over the X-Men and Fantastic Four) was originally scheduled for 2018, and now it’s not scheduled to come out until April 3, 2020. Harrison Ford’s Call of the Wild (February 21, 2020) is one of the other films pushed back into 2020, as is the long-in-development YA novel adaptation Artemis Fowl (May 29, 2020), though that has always been a Disney movie. Dora and the Lost City of Gold has already swept in to take over Fowl’s original August 9, 2019, release date. Disney’s slate is also significant for what it doesn’t have, such as Fox’s various Marvel movies, like Gambit (with Channing Tatum attached), and projects like X-Force, X-23, Kitty Pryde, and James Franco’s Madrox the Multiple Man.
Up until this week, it was believed that Avatar 2 would be released next year, on December 18, 2020, following years of delays from its original release date in December 2014. This week, as Disney also revealed an every-two-years rotation of Star Wars movies in 2022, 2024, and 2026, they did the same thing for the upcoming Avatar sequels. The four Avatar sequels (yes, James Cameron is really working on four sequels) are now scheduled for December releases in the odd years: Avatar 2 (December 17, 2021), Avatar 3 (December 22, 2023), Avatar 4 (December 19, 2025), and Avatar 5 (December 17, 2027). Paramount Pictures took quick advantage of the vacuum left by the Avatar 2 move, pushing their own sequel, Coming to America 2, back to December 18, 2020. By doing that, Paramount also made room for the science-fiction drama Infinite, starring Chris Evans, on August 7, 2020. For their own part, Disney also replaced Avatar 2 with their own films, the double feature of Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake on December 18, 2020, followed by Cruella (the live-action 101 Dalmatians starring Emma Stone), five days later on December 23, 2020. We can expect the next few weeks to have more release date changes from Disney’s competitor studios.