This week’s Ketchup brings you another ten headlines from the fast-moving online world of film development news, those stories about what movies Hollywood will be delivering to us in the months and years to come. Included in the mix this time around are such movies as Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, Marvel’s Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, Universal’s The Mummy, and new roles for Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Damon, and Dwayne Johnson.
Although Idris Elba has had a few prominent roles in genre films such as playing Heimdall in the Thor movies, or as Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim, he doesn’t yet have a major franchise of his own. (That is, unless he really does replace Daniel Craig as James Bond someday.) Elba’s biggest chance may be coming soon, however, with the news that he has emerged as the frontrunner for one of Sony Pictures’ biggest upcoming adaptations. Reportedly, Idris Elba is wanted to star as Roland Deschain the Gunslinger in Sony’s adaptations of Stephen King’s many novels in The Dark Tower series. If negotiations begin, Idris Elba would be joining Matthew McConaughey, who is also in talks to costar as Randall Flagg, AKA The Man in Black, the series’ main villain. At least the first film in Sony’s The Dark Tower series will be directed by Danish director Nikolaj Arcel, who is best known for directing A Royal Affair, and the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (the one starring Noomi Rapace). Idris Elba’s upcoming films in 2016 include voicing Shere Khan in Disney’s The Jungle Book (4/15/16), also providing a voice for Finding Dory (6/17/16), and costarring in Star Trek Beyond (7/22/16).
Hollywood is increasingly divided into three camps: those who have worked with Marvel, those who have worked with WB/DC, and those who just haven’t landed their opportunity yet. (Though there are at least 15 who have done both, they are still a relative minority.) There are still some major players who have not yet signed on for their turn at a superhero role, but that list grows a little smaller with each big new film that casts up. This week, we can cross Cate Blanchett off that list, as she is now in talks to take an unspecified role in Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok (11/3/17). Although Blanchett’s role is being kept secret for now, there are at least three major roles that are both likely to be in Thor: Ragnarok and could be played by her. Let’s address them in reverse order of Blanchett’s probability of playing them. First, there’s Brunnhilde the Valkyrie, who has already been semi-confirmed as appearing in Thor: Ragnarok, but who is the most physical of our three guesses, which is not Cate Blanchett’s most obvious wheelhouse. A second possibility is Amora the Enchantress, and although Cate Blanchett has played a sorceress before (in the Lord of the Rings movies), Marvel might be more likely to cast a young actress for the role (Blanchett will turn 48 in 2017). A third possibility is Hela, the ruler of Hel, the Norse afterworld, who in the comics is the daughter of Loki (though being immortals, this point might be more fixable). Thor: Ragnarok will also feature Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, and will be directed by Taika Waititi (codirector of What We Do in the Shadows).
After starring in four movies directed by the Coen Brothers (including next year’s Hail, Caesar!), George Clooney is now (sort of) returning the favor by directing a film that Joel and Ethan Coen wrote. The title is Suburbicon, and it’s described as being a 1950s film noir in the style of the Coens’ first film, Blood Simple. This week, we learned which stars George Clooney is talking to about starring in Suburbicon, and it’s an impressive trio. The three stars are Matt Damon (Clooney’s costar in the Ocean’s Eleven movies), Julianne Moore (who worked with the Coens on The Big Lebowski), and Josh Brolin (who starred in the Coens’ No Country for Old Men). Suburbicon is being independently financed, but Sony Pictures is seen as the studio most likely to distribute.
Late last Friday, just as the Weekly Ketchup was going live, the news broke that Marvel has finally ended one of its longest directorial searches. The movie in question is Black Panther (2/16/18), and the director who is now in talks is Ryan Coogler. Although not yet a household name, Ryan Coogler already has two Certified Fresh films under his belt with Fruitvale Station and the recent Rocky spinoff Creed. Chadwick Boseman was announced last year to be starring as T’Challa, AKA the Black Panther, starting with a prominent role in next summer’s Captain America: Civil War (5/6/16). This will be Ryan Coogler’s first film where the lead role isn’t played by Michael B. Jordan, but there are likely still plenty of supporting roles in Black Panther that Jordan could play (especially since Jordan’s Fantastic Four role was not in a Marvel Studios production).
Director Ang Lee last year decided to delay his plans for a HFR (high frame rate) 3D boxing movie due to technological limits, directing the Iraq War satire Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk instead (11/11/16). But now, it looks like the movie is back on track again. Ang Lee’s boxing movie, which might use a frame rate as high as 120 (more than twice that of The Hobbit), now looks like it is back on his near-term schedule, as a new production company has picked it up from Universal Pictures. Lee’s film doesn’t currently have an official title, but it is based on the famous 1975 “Thrilla in Manila” match between in heavyweights Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Although no deals are as of yet in place, Ang Lee reportedly hopes to cast David Oyelowo (Selma, Interstellar) as Joe Frazier. For Muhammad Ali, Ang Lee likewise hopes to recruit Ray Fisher, who will be starring in WB/DC’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the Justice League movies as Victor Stone, AKA Cyborg.
With less than a week from Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally being released, the online world has been as expected sort of deluged with publicity for the film. While talking to Yahoo! Movies, director J.J. Abrams dropped something of an insight bomb. Specifically, Abrams said, “One name that immediately comes to mind is Ava DuVernay, who I thought did just a mind-blowingly great job with Selma… and getting to know her a little since that movie, she is such a fan of genre films and storytelling.” Ava DuVernay had also briefly been considered for the job of directing Marvel’s Black Panther (which, like the Star Wars movies, is also owned by Disney). This revelation follows another recent one that Disney and Lucasfilm are seeking female writers and directors for future Star Wars movies. In other Ava DuVernay news, this was also the week when the limited edition Ava DuVernay Barbie doll went on sale, and quickly went out of sale, because it sold out within minutes.
Benedict Cumberbatch is currently in the midst of starring as Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme in Doctor Strange, but the actor is already lining up another role in which he will play a (less magical) magician. Benedict Cumberbatch will star in the long-in-development World War II drama The War Magician, which will be based upon the book by David Fisher. The War Magician will tell the true story of Jasper Maskelyne, a British 1930s/1940s magician who with a group called “The Magic Gang” worked with British intelligence during World War II. Maskelyne’s team used their knowledge of stage trickery to deceive German forces, such as inflating hundreds of balloons to create the deception of massive tank forces where there weren’t really any. At one point in the film’s long development, Tom Cruise had previously been attached to star as Jasper Maskelyne. The War Magician is currently being adapted by Gary Whitta, the same screenwriter who wrote the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12/16/16).
Dwayne Johnson is establishing quite a plank of upcoming action comedies. Johnson’s schedule for the next few years includes taking over for David Hasselhoff in the Baywatch movie, the Rampage arcade video game monster movie, and next summer’s Central Intelligence spy movie with Kevin Hart (6/17/16). We can now add a fourth action comedy to that list with this week’s news. Dwayne Johnson is attached to star in an untitled New Line Cinema “mismatched buddy action comedy” reportedly in the style of Lethal Weapon, 48 Hrs, and Midnight Run. The project landed at New Line Cinema after the studio outbid three other studios. Johnson has a strong relationship with New Line Cinema, which handled this year’s San Andreas, and also where both Rampage, Central Intelligence and Shazam are based (Dwayne Johnson is expected to play Black Adam in Shazam). This untitled buddy action movie will be directed by Will Gluck (Easy A, Friends with Benefits) from a script by Dave Callaham (cowriter of Doom, The Expendables).
If there was just one breakout star from this past spring’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, well… it was probably Taron Egerton. But if there were two such discoveries, then the second one was definitely Sofia Boutella, who played Gazelle, the amputee assassin with huge blades for legs (which is not to be confused with Rose McGowan’s machine gun leg in Grindhouse). Sofia Boutella’s opportunity for a post-Kingsman boost may have taken longer than for Taron Egerton (who is already starring with Hugh Jackman in next year’s Eddie the Eagle), but this week, her turn came. Boutella is now in talks with Universal Pictures to star as the title character in their next reboot of The Mummy (3/24/17). This version of The Mummy, which is obviously female instead of male, will also start Universal’s new franchise of “Classic Universal Monster” movies all connected in the same cinematic universe, a la Marvel’s. Tom Cruise is also in talks for the male (non-Mummy) lead in The Mummy. The 2017 version of The Mummy will be directed by Alex Kurtzman, whose Tomatometer is 2/3 Rotten, hence why we’re calling this one of the week’s “Rotten Ideas.”
If there’s one thing Batman has plenty of, it’s famous and memorable villains. Indeed, the argument could be made that he has the strongest rogue’s gallery of any superhero in the history of comic books, and that’s even including Spider-Man, who, regardless, probably still holds that title among Marvel’s heroes. One of the villains who did indeed first appear in the pages of Batman is the assassin Deadshot, who will be played by Will Smith next year in Suicide Squad (8/5/16). This week, a new rumor emerged that Will Smith is hoping to convince Warner Bros to also use his character Deadshot in a few years when Ben Affleck gets his own solo Batman movie. As we sort of were suggesting by how we led into this article, the problem with including Deadshot in the first solo Batman movie is that there is very much a risk that he will potentially crowd out one of Batman’s other famous villains for whom that film may be their only shot at exposure. There is something of a fine balance between just enough and too many villains, and it’s one that superhero movies regularly grapple with (see also: Spider-Man 3, and well, more Batman movies than not). Even without Will Smith as Deadshot, the first Ben Affleck Batman could have five different villains, and barely get close to covering more than a quarter of his major foes.