Today’s Ketchup brings you ten headlines from the world of film development news, covering titles such as Batgirl, Coming 2 America, Mulan and the Fast & Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw.
In February, it was confirmed that Mama star Jessica Chastain was signed to reunite with that film’s director for IT: Chapter Two, playing the adult version of Beverly. Chastain’s past work with director Andy Muschietti probably made her the easiest actor to announce first, but it also meant that “adult Beverly” actually got announced before any of the male members of “The Losers Club“. We can now report, however, that the first male actors who may be cast in two of those roles could be James McAvoy (Split, X-Men: First Class) and Saturday Night Live alumnus Bill Hader. James McAvoy would play the group’s leader Bill (who, as played by Jaeden Liberher, had a stutter as a child), and Bill Hader would be the joker of the group, Richie Tozier, who was played by Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard. We also know now that New Line Cinema has scheduled filming of IT: Chapter Two for this summer at locations in Toronto, which makes sense since the second half of the adaptation of Stephen King’s novel has already been scheduled for release next year on September 6, 2019.
After several weeks of box office pundits bemoaning the relatively disappointing numbers for films like A Wrinkle in Time, Tomb Raider, and Pacific Rim: Uprising, things improved with Ready Player One and last weekend’s $50 million opening for A Quiet Place. (Of course, it may not be a coincidence that those first three were Rotten, and the latter two were Fresh.) That surprisingly strong opening for A Quiet Place led to a quick new deal for director and star John Krasinksi, who is now in talks to direct a film called Life on Mars. The science fiction drama is based on a short story by Cecil Castellucci called We Have Always Live on Mars, about future Martian colonists from Earth who find themselves abandoned on the 4th planet after a disaster. Krasinksi is not expected to star in Life on Mars, but it has a female lead, so Emily Blunt might still be a possibility.
Back in February, we first heard who the frontrunner was to direct the Fast & Furious spinoff focusing on the characters played in previous films by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. That director was David Leitch, who made his solo debut with Atomic Blonde, and also directed next month’s Deadpool 2. Well, this week we learned that David Leitch will indeed direct the spinoff, which reportedly has the working title of Hobbs and Shaw (the names of Johnson and Statham’s characters). Hobbs and Shaw is scheduled for release on July 26, 2019, which is several months before the ninth and final official Fast & Furious movie, which is scheduled for April 10th, 2020. It’s not yet known if Johnson will appear in that final Fast and Furious movie with his pal Vin Diesel (but don’t count on it).
Walt Disney Pictures announced back in November that Chinese actress Liu Yifei (AKA Crystal Liu) had been cast as the titular heroine in their live-action remake of Mulan. It wasn’t until this week, however that we first heard who will be supporting Liu in the remake. The first news came yesterday as Donnie Yen was signed to play Commander Tung, Mulan’s mentor and teacher. Mulan will be Yen’s second film for Disney after starring as Chirrut Îmwe in 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. We also learned this week that Gong Li will play the film’s villain, a powerful witch (a premise change from the 1998 animated movie), and that Jet Li will play the Emperor of China. Walt Disney Pictures has scheduled Mulan for March 27th, 2020, where it is currently up against the reboot of G.I. Joe.
Peter Dinklage has obviously appeared in some roles that were related to his height (Elf, Game of Thrones, and HBO’s upcoming My Dinner with Hervé). There are, however, just as many (or arguably more) examples of roles where Dinklage’s height status is incidental (such as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). Dinklage has been attached to a crime comedy called O Lucky Day since 2014, but it appears that the film is finally nearing production. Director Jon S. Baird (2014’s Filth) has signed with Legendary Entertainment to direct O Lucky Day, in which Peter Dinklage will play a career conman who poses as a leprechaun in “an elaborate scheme of vengeance,” working from a screenplay by Andrew Dodge (Bad Words; co-writer of Space Jam 2). Dinklage is currently deep into filming of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, which recently wrapped a battle sequence that took 55 days to film.
It’s perhaps not particularly sexy, but if you are a fan of film development news, one of the most telling things to follow each year is California’s film production tax credits. These reports are significant because they tell us specific projects that are close enough to filming that they’ve filed with the state. Of the nine projects awarded in the latest round, five in particular stand out. First up, there is Eddie Murphy’s Coming 2 America, the sequel to the 1988 comedy hit that the Ketchup first reported on in September. Other projects included in the report are Universal’s Scarface reboot, the car business historical drama Ford V. Ferrari, Jordan Peele’s next film as director after Get Out, and the long-awaited Deadwood movie.
In 2016, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford died after a two year struggle with cancer, bringing to a sad close Ford’s very public legacy, which included a series of scandals involving alcohol and drugs. Ford is the key figure in a drama now being filmed in Toronto called Run This Town, about a reporter (Ben Platt) attempting to expose a scandal involving “a politician who doesn’t play by the rules.” This week, it was confirmed that the politician in question is indeed the late Rob Ford, who will be portrayed by British actor Damian Lewis. Lewis is best known to audiences in the United States for his work on the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers and the first three seasons of Showtime’s Homeland series (opposite Claire Danes). Lewis is being fitted with a “body prosthetic” in order to better match Ford’s profile and appearance.
We’ve known since early 2015 that Walt Disney Animation was developing and producing a sequel to their 2013 hit film Frozen, which is now scheduled for release on November 27, 2019. It’s not known if Kristen Bell has started recording her role as Anna in Frozen 2 yet, but we now know another film that she might be able to film in time for a release in 2019. Bell is now signed for the lead role in the musical Fantasy Camp for STXfilm as “a junior high school teacher that faces her fears and pursues her dreams while attending a Broadway performing-arts camp for adults.” Fantasy Camp is part of a series of female-led projects from STX Entertainment that also includes next week’s I Feel Pretty (starring Amy Schumer), the rom-com Second Act (starring Jennifer Lopez), and the puppet musical The Happytime Murders (starring Elizabeth Banks and Melissa McCarthy).
In February, Avengers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer writer and director Joss Whedon backed out of Warner Bros and DC Comics’ Batgirl, citing the lack of “a story.” Soon after, acclaimed writer Roxane Gay took to Twitter, saying, “Hey @DCComics I can write your batgirl movie, no prob.” This week, we found out who Warner Bros has signed to replace Joss Whedon, and it’s not Roxane Gay, and her Tomatometer is not Fresh. Christina Hodson currently has two credits on RT (Shut In – 8% Rotten, and Unforgettable – 25% Rotten), and also wrote this December’s Transformers spinoff Bumblebee. None of the five live action Transformers movies has earned a Fresh Tomatometer score, with the first film coming the closest at 57%, and the most recent being the lowest at 16%.