Today’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles such as Morbius, a Baby Driver sequel, and a new female-led Fast & Furious spinoff.
HBO’s The Sopranos obviously had a single lead, but James Gandolfini was supported by a large ensemble cast, so the prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark is likely to have a large cast as well. The main character in this story about the 1967 Newark race riots will be Dickie Moltisanti (played by Alessandro Nivola), the father of Christopher Moltisanti from The Sopranos. (“Moltisanti” translates from Italian as “many saints.”) We’ve also learned recently of the casting of first Jon Bernthal (The Punisher) and Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel), rumored to play Tony Soprano’s parents, and then Corey Stoll (Ant-Man) and Billy Magnussen (Game Night). We know from The Sopranos that Tony Soprano was around during this era, and now we also know that “young Tony” will be played by James Gandolfini’s actual son, Michael Gandolfini, who was also in HBO’s The Deuce. Gandolfini won the opportunity to reprise his father’s most famous role following an “extensive audition process… [and] his screen presence, mastery of Tony’s mannerisms, coupled with his resemblance to the elder Gandolfini made him the standout choice for the role because no one there understood the character better.” New Line Cinema is expected to open The Many Saints of Newark in wide release theatrically, in either late 2019 or sometime in 2020.
Netflix famously does not disclose viewership numbers for most of their shows and movies. (Very often, pundits are left to guess at numbers based on social media reactions.) That’s why it was significant a few weeks back when the streaming giant confirmed that over 45,000,000 accounts had viewed the thriller Bird Box, breaking the company’s “first seven days” record. Just after Bird Box celebrated the end of its first month on Netflix, the news broke that the company and its Bird Box star are reuniting for another genre-based book adaptation. Sandra Bullock, Netflix, and the producers of IT are teaming up to adapt Mark Millar’s comic book Reborn, which will be directed by Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie, Certified Fresh at 90%). Reborn joins a busy slate for Chris McKay, who is also developing adaptations of Jonny Quest, Nightwing (AKA Dick Grayson), and Dungeons & Dragons, all for Warner Bros. Bullock is expected to star as an 80-year-old woman who dies in a Manhattan hospital to find herself Reborn in “the afterlife world of Adystria, a magical land of monsters and dragons where good and evil are waging an eternal war.” Reborn was written by Kick-Ass and Kingsman creator Mark Millar, who signed a lucrative deal in 2017 that also includes Netflix shows based on Millar’s American Jesus and Jupiter’s Legacy.
It has now been over 18 months since the release of Baby Driver, the long-in-development heist movie from director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), following his high profile departure from Ant-Man. Wright continues to move forward on a sequel, a script for which he says exists in a first draft. In the meantime, he’s now preparing to direct another original project this summer. We don’t know a title or any casting yet, but Edgar Wright’s next film will reportedly be a “psychological horror” film with a female lead set in the Soho district of contemporary London. Exact story details aren’t available, but Wright has cited both Don’t Look Now and Repulsion as inspirations, which suggests a film filled with hallucinations and paranoia.
Netflix currently has their most ambitious project to date, Martin Scorsese’s $175+ million mobster epic The Irishman, in post-production, aiming for 2019’s awards season, and is showing little signs of slowing down in their pursuit for major productions. The latest example came this morning with the news that Netflix is committing $45 million to produce director Ron Howard’s adaptation of the bestselling book Hillbilly Elegy. J.D. Vance’s book is a memoir about his childhood growing up in a small town in Ohio after his family moves there from the Appalachian area of Kentucky. Howard and his Imagine Entertainment have a long relationship with Universal Pictures, so the move to Netflix is a major development, with the budget Netflix was willing to put up reportedly being the deciding factor. Ron Howard is coming off last year’s Solo: A Star Wars Story and is currently working on a documentary about opera star Luciano Pavarotti. Hillbilly Elegy is being adapted by screenwriter Vanessa Taylor, who co-wrote The Shape of Water and is also working on the Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos movie Bad Blood.
Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) may have been one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, but big budget Hollywood has largely ignored his works (although there have been dozens of independent movies). If there’s a single story that best exemplifies the difficulty in adapting Lovecraft to film, it just might be the 1927 short story “The Colour Out of Space.” That’s because the premise revolves around what scientists call an “impossible color” (basically, a color that humans can’t perceive). Put another way, you can’t very well film a color which your human audience can’t see. Well, that story is indeed getting its own movie, Color Out of Space, with Nicolas Cage reuniting with the producers of Mandy (Certified Fresh at 92%). Cage will play a New England small town farmer whose life is turned topsy-turvy following the crash of a meteorite that brings the titular color to Earth. Color Out of Space will be directed by South African director Richard Stanley (Hardware, Dust Devil) as his first feature film in over 20 years since he was (reportedly) fired from directing 1996’s The Island of Dr. Moreau.
As of next Friday, we will be within six months of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, the spinoff starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. Filming of the next entry (Fast & Furious 9) of the main Fast & Furious franchise will reportedly begin in April, but Vin Diesel confirmed this week that a third branch of the family tree is now being officially developed. Diesel and his producer sister Samantha Vincent took to Instagram to reveal that they have hired three screenwriters to work on a female protagonist-led Fast & Furious spinoff. Lindsey Beer co-wrote next year’s post-apocalyptic thriller Chaos Walking (starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley), and is also working on reboots of Short Circuit and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Geneva Robertson-Dworet co-wrote Captain Marvel and last year’s Tomb Raider. As for Nicole Perlman, she co-wrote Guardians of the Galaxy (co-starring Vin Diesel), and is also working on Detective Pikachu, the Labyrinth remake, and Marvel Studios’ Black Widow. We don’t know yet who will star in the spinoff, but Michelle Rodriguez is probably at the top of the list.
Paramount Pictures announced release dates for two films this week and yanked another project from their schedule completely, signalling that the project has probably been cancelled. The Crawl is a natural disaster horror film about “a young woman who becomes trapped in a flooding house during a Category 5 hurricane and must battle against Florida’s most savage and feared predators,” and it’s now scheduled for August 23, 2019, up against Angel Has Fallen (the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen). Playing with Fire is a family comedy about three orphaned kids sent to separate foster homes, with wrestler-turned-actor John Cena starring, along with Judy Greer, John Leguizamo, and Keegan-Michael Key. Playing with Fire is scheduled for March 20, 2020 (the week before Disney’s Mulan remake, and Paramount’s G.I. Joe spinoff Snake Eyes). Finally, Paramount has pulled a movie based on the Nickelodeon animated series The Loud House from their slate, where it had formerly been scheduled for February 7, 2020.
Following the box office success of Venom ($855 million globally as #6 for 2018) and the acclaim and awards given to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Sony Pictures is moving forward confidently with their plans to adapt their share of Marvel’s properties. Jared Leto has been attached to star as the vampire anti-hero Morbius for a while now (with July 10, 2020 speculated to be the film’s target date). The second actor to join Morbius will be Matt Smith, who is still best known to American audiences for playing the 11th incarnation of BBC’s Doctor Who. Smith’s role is currently unknown, but Collider is speculating that he may play Loxias Crown, a friend of the scientist Michael Morbius who takes the same serum but is transformed into a more evil bloodthirsty creature. In related news, we also learned this week that transgender actor Zach Barack has been cast in this summer’s Spider-Man: Far from Home (7/5/2019) in what is a groundbreaking first for a superhero movie of this scale.
The fifth and final season of the CW series Jane the Virgin is set to debut in March, and its star Gina Rodriguez is continuing to seek more movie roles (like last year’s Annihilation) to expand her career past television. With that in mind, Warner Bros. has cast Rodriguez to star as Bobbie Sue, which has been in development since 2008. (At one point Cameron Diaz had been attached to star.) Rodriguez will play a young woman from South Boston who is “a scrappy, headstrong young lawyer who lands a career-making case with an upper crust law firm, only to realize she’s been hired for optics and not her expertise.” Bobbie Sue will be directed by Charles Stone III, whose most recent film was last year’s Uncle Drew (63%), and who also directed Drumline (Certified Fresh at 82%) and the baseball comedy Mr. 3000 (54%).
Put simply, a movie star’s box office status is not defined simply by being in very successful films, but also by their ability to ensure that people will buy tickets for films they might not otherwise. The $20 million opening weekend for The Upside was not itself huge, but significantly more than one might otherwise think a remake of a French movie from 2011 might be. In the last two weeks, Hollywood has been making deals quickly with Kevin Hart’s people, which last week alone included signing Hart to star in the Monopoly movie and a tragic drama called Fatherhood. This week, STXfilms signed Hart for two comedies, the first of which will be a “body swapping fantasy” called Black Friday, which will be followed by an untitled “international romantic comedy.” No other details were revealed about Black Friday, but the title suggests it might the body swapping might be racial in nature. We’re calling this a “Rotten Idea” because STXfilms’ The Upside earned a 39% Tomatometer.