Today’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Marvel’s The Eternals, Ghostbusters, Scooby-Doo, and The Suicide Squad.
Last year, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn switched teams to join Warner Bros. and their DC Comics movies (following his forced departure from Disney and Marvel over controversial joke Tweets). WB hired Gunn to do something of a soft reboot on The Suicide Squad, and at first, it was reported that the second movie would feature an all-new team of supervillains. This week, we learned that detail is only partly true, as the characters of Harley Quinn and Deadshot will return, but the rest of the team will be new. Margot Robbie will reprise her role as Harley Quinn, but it won’t be Will Smith we’ll be seeing as Deadshot, as Idris Elba has signed on instead. Warner Bros. has scheduled The Suicide Squad for release on August 6, 2021, which will be one day over five years after the first Suicide Squad (8/5/2016). As for which DC Comics supervillains will be joining Deadshot and Harley Quinn in the sequel, Collider.com has what they report is the list. Reportedly, the new villains will include Ratcatcher (gender swapped as a woman), the eccentric Batman villain Polka Dot Man, Peacemaker (who was adapted as The Comedian in Alan Moore’s Watchmen), and King Shark, who was a memorable character on TV’s The Flash. As for what Will Smith will be doing with his free time in 2019 instead, he signed on this week to star in King Richard, which will tell the true story of tennis coach Richard Williams, the father of future tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams.
The last few years have seen a series of “firsts” in live action superhero movies: Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel all represented important first steps (and the news of movies like Blue Beetle and Shang-Chi being developed represent others yet to come). As first reported by the ThatHashtagShow podcast, Marvel is now seeking a (preferably openly gay) actor aged 30-49 (of any ethnicity) who “physically looks like a superhero” for one of the leads in next year’s The Eternals. The story seemed to be confirmed by Marvel production chief Victoria Alonso, who, when asked about it, replied, “the world is ready.” Marvel has not yet announced a release date for The Eternals, but it’s probably the “untitled” project scheduled for November 6, 2020 (presuming Black Widow is the film scheduled for for May 1, 2020). As for which of The Eternals might be the gay character in question, of the three known leads, Ikaris would seem most likely, just by process of elimination (the other two confirmed leads being Sersi and the childlike Piper). Other possibilities include Makkari (based on Mercury), Thanos’ brother Starfox, and even Hercules (who’s not one of the Eternals in the comics, but could be adapted that way for the MCU).
A few months ago, Guillermo del Toro (Academy Award winner for The Shape of Water) revealed that he had over 15 screenplays written and ready to go. Included in that list was “Secret Project (Untitled).” Now, we still don’t know for sure what that project is, but we did learn about a previously unknown film that has been “in development for the past six years.” The movie is called Zanbato, and although we’re still missing many details, it’s described as an action movie about a young girl (in the 10-15 year old range) with amazing fighting abilities “like a ninja.” Del Toro is attached not just to write but also to direct Zanbato for Paramount Pictures by way of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot as the production company. Meanwhile, del Toro is currently in pre-production on his adaptation of Pinocchio for Netflix.
It was less than two months ago that we learned that Sony Pictures is fast-tracking a new Ghostbusters to be directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Tully, Up in the Air), the son of the first movie’s director, Ivan Reitman. (Sony also gave us a quick teaser trailer to boot, featuring one of the franchise’s most iconic props.) Two weeks later, Sony announced that the new Ghostbusters has been scheduled for release next summer for July 10, 2020. Many details aren’t yet known, but the new film will be a direct sequel to the original film that does not use the continuity of the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot. We can however now report that Carrie Coon (Avengers: Infinity War, TV’s Fargo) and Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) have been cast as a mother and son who are central to the new film. How their characters connect to the original Ghostbusters isn’t yet known (this writer’s best guess: Egon’s daughter and grandson?).
A couple of weeks before the release of the 2017 reboot of The Mummy, Universal Pictures made a big push to promote their “Dark Universe” made up of similar classic monster movies. And then The Mummy opened to disappointing box office numbers, and by the end of that year, Universal’s plans for movies like Bride of Frankenstein (which would have come out February 14, 2019) were scrapped. Even if the “Dark Universe” doesn’t happen, Universal still has a lot invested in these properties, and so some of them will still eventually get made. One of them was The Invisible Man, in which Johnny Depp would have starred. This week, it was confirmed that Depp has disappeared from the reboot, with Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) now in early talks to star. Details aren’t yet known (such as whether it would be called The Invisible Woman), except that Leigh Whannell (Upgrade, Insidious: Chapter 3) is now writing and will direct the reboot.
However one defines “mecha,” whether it be human-sized (like Iron Man) or gigantic (like those in Pacific Rim), mecha in Hollywood are still not as prevalent as they are in, say, Japanese anime. This week, however, we learned of development progress for three science fiction projects, all based on pre-existing material, which are likely to feature mecha. Let’s start with the Metal Gear Solid movie, based on the popular and long-running Konami video game franchise. We’ve known for a while now that it’s something of a dream project for Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, but this week, we learned which actor is most likely to star as Solid Snake: Oscar Isaac. No deal is in place just yet, but Isaac came right out and this week, “Metal Gear Solid, that’s the one… I’m throwing my hat in for that one,” to which Vogt-Roberts seemed to give a positive response. Another mecha movie now in development is the sequel to 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow (with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt expected to return), which is now being worked on by one of the Monster Trucks co-writers. The mecha in Metal Gear Solid is a supporting element, and the mecha in Edge of Tomorrow are human-sized, but the third movie in the news this week is absolutely puts “giant mecha” front and center. Comic book (and LOST) writer Brian K. Vaughn is now working on an adaptation of the popular manga and anime series Gundam for Legendary Entertainment.
Live-action movies for major franchises nowadays are discussed online years in advance sometimes, but animated movies are still able to evade such scrutiny in some cases. We’re thinking here, for example, of something like last year’s Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. This week’s example is also from Warner Bros., and it’s also an animated feature film based on one of WB’s popular animated TV shows. Warner Bros. is releasing Scooby-Doo next summer on May 15, 2020 (up against A Quiet Place 2, and the week before Fast and Furious 9 and The SpongeBob Movie: It’s a Wonderful Sponge). This week, four of the stars who will be voicing characters were revealed, and one of the characters is a childhood favorite making his bigscreen debut. Captain Caveman made his television debut in 1977, in what was sort of a spoof of Charlie’s Angels, but he went on to make dozens of appearances in other shows, including a few team-ups with the Scooby-Doo gang. Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) will voice Captain Caveman, Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) will voice Velma, Will Forte will voice Shaggy, and Frank Welker will reprise his role as Scooby himself. The voices behind Fred and Daphne have yet to be announced.
Arguably, the standout star of last year’s Bad Times at the El Royale (even if it was a box office disappointment) was Broadway star Cynthia Erivo, who is just beginning to make her transition to feature films. To that end, Erivo is partnering with Josh Gad, also of Broadway (The Book of Mormon), but also a Disney musical star with both Frozen and their live-action Beauty and the Beast. Erivo and Gad are both attached to a package at Warner Bros. that will adapt the American folk tale Rip Van Winkle. It’s unclear which of them will actually play the title character, but Cynthia Erivo is described as the project’s “star.” The screenplay is now being adapted by Amanda Idoko, who is working with Warner Bros. on their DC Comics movie Plastic Man.
Going into 2019, it looked like Walt Disney Pictures had loaded up their schedule with three of their live-action remakes (Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King), with the next film after 2019 to be the Maleficent sequel, scheduled for May, 2020. Disney’s likely dominance of the 2019 box office is especially evident when one also factors in their animated features (Toy Story 4, Frozen 2) and Marvel features (Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame). This week, however, Disney really upped the stakes with the revelation that the sequel featuring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning, now called Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, isn’t a 2020 movie after all, but is now scheduled for October 18, 2019. This sort of sent other studios scrambling (and the reactions might still be forthcoming), starting with Universal’s decision to yank an untitled Blumhouse horror film from that date. The first Maleficent movie, adapted from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, earned a “Rotten” score in 2014 of 54%, and there isn’t much to indicate this one will fare any better.
We’re now just two months away from Pokémon Detective Pikachu (5/10/2019), the first live-action movie based on the popular and long-running video game franchise from Japanese video game publisher Nintendo. This week, we learned of another iconic Japanese import who is ready to make the jump across the Pacific to star in her first major Hollywood movie. New Line Cinema has acquired the film rights to Hello Kitty from Sanrio in what will be the first English-language feature film based on the character and brand. There isn’t much else we know about the Hello Kitty movie at this point, including whether it will be an animated film or a live action/animated hybrid (an entirely live-action Hello Kitty is probably unlikely). First introduced in 1974, Hello Kitty is a globally successful brand that has been adapted into manga comics, anime TV shows, video games, several Japanese-language movies, and over 50,000 other branded products (and there’s also several Sanrio stores in California and Hawaii). The Hello Kitty movie is being produced for New Line Cinema by Beau Flynn (Rampage, Skyscraper, Baywatch), who hasn’t been involved with a Fresh movie since 2008.