This week’s Ketchup brings you another ten headlines from the world of film development news (those stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next). Included in the mix this time around are stories about such titles as Bumblebee, Deadpool 2, Trolls 2, and the third TRON movie.
Considering Jared Leto’s antics during the filming of last year’s Suicide Squad, it’s natural to speculate how far the method actor will go to prepare for any given role. For example, if he landed the lead role in a video game movie, would he do all he could to immerse himself in gamer culture? That is absolutely not an academic question, as the news broke this afternoon that Walt Disney Pictures is now “circling” Jared Leto to possibly star in a new reboot of their TRON franchise. The TRON movies, for those unfamiliar, involve electronic characters inside the world of video games (sort of like Wreck-It Ralph, but more serious). If the project does move on, it would be Disney’s third TRON movie, following the first film in the 1980s (starring Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner) and its direct sequel, TRON: Legacy in 2010 (starring Garrett Hedlund as Bridges’ character’s son). A third movie, then called TRON: Ascension, had reportedly almost started filming in 2015, but it was scrapped soon after filming began. Curiously, director Joseph Kosinski revealed details of that film earlier this week, saying that it wasn’t dead after all and that it was sort of like an “invasion movie.” Today’s news about Jared Leto and the new reboot doesn’t mention anything about the Ascension script being used, although Leto’s “Ares” character reportedly was introduced in Kosinski’s previous screenplay. It’s also not known if Joseph Kosinkski will return to direct this reboot.
We’re just wrapping up the first week of release for Jordan Peele’s horror movie hit, Get Out, and already, the movie’s star has landed what could be a very plum role. Daniel Kaluuya isn’t a household name yet, but as the lead character in Get Out, he’s in a great position to raise his profile. Although he plays an American in Get Out, Kaluuya is actually British, so it probably isn’t a huge surprise that the director who has recruited Kaluuya for his next big film is another Brit, namely Steve McQueen (Hunger, 12 Years a Slave), who has cast Kaluuya in his adaptation of the British miniseries Widows. The title refers to the wives who are left behind when a gang of criminals (possibly including Kaluuya’s character) are killed while trying to pull off a heist. The four title characters are expected to be Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Enrivo. If Daniel Kaluuya is going to play one of the killed criminals, it’s not yet known which of the Widows will be his.
It’s now been over a year since Deadpool (or specifically, its post-credits tease) sent us all a-speculating about who might be cast as Cable, Marvel’s popular time-travelling soldier, and we’re still not much closer to an answer, despite rumors that alternately named Stephen Lang (Avatar), Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Kyle Chandler, and apparently Michael Shannon (who recently dropped out of contention). The latest actor to make the news is David Harbour, the character actor who played supporting roles in projects like HBO’s The Newsroom, Black Mass, and Suicide Squad before his turn as Police Chief Hopper in Netflix’s massively popular Stranger Things. Reportedly, Harbour is currently being “eyed” to play Cable in the Deadpool sequel (which might be called Deadpool & Cable), and he’s recently been screen-tested by Fox.
When one reflects on the animated box office hits of 2016, the most obvious winners were Finding Dory, The Secret Life of Pets, Zootopia, Sing, and Moana. Having noted that, DreamWorks also scored a fairly decent hit with November’s Trolls, with its global take currently at $340+ million off a budget of $125 million. That was apparently enough to satisfy DreamWorks and their new corporate owners at Universal Pictures, because this week, the two studios announced their plans for a Trolls sequel. The first film’s two voice cast leads, Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, are both already signed to reprise their colorful roles in the sequel, but no other details are currently known. Universal has scheduled Trolls 2 for release on April 10, 2020, which is one week after the current release dates for the DC Comics superhero movie Cyborg and a mystery title from DreamWorks’ animation competition, Sony Animation.
The winner of this year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was Disney’s Zootopia, but the director of one of its main competitors for that prize was one of the first figures to “win” a new job after the ceremony this week. (See also: the Ryan Gosling story that follows!) That director is Travis Knight, the CEO of stop-motion animation company Laika Pictures, who also made his directorial debut with Kubo and the Two Strings. Although, after four movies (including Coraline, Boxtrolls, and ParaNorman), Laika has yet to have its own major box office success, the firm’s reputation appears to have helped Knight transition into working directly on a major Hollywood film for his second directorial feature. Knight has landed the plum job of directing the Transformers spinoff about yellow robot Bumblebee, making him the first director to work on the franchise who’s not Michael Bay. The fifth film from Laika (which is still shrouded in mystery) is scheduled for release on May 18th, 2018 (up against the Slender Man horror movie).
The musical drama La La Land may have won the most Academy Awards Sunday night (six, including Best Director and Best Actress), but in a bizarre twist (as you may have heard), it will probably always be remembered as the movie that won-but-didn’t-actually-win Best Picture. The last-minute Oscar mixup so dominated the news cycle this week that it’s easy to overlook the fact that there was another La La Land loser: Ryan Gosling (Casey Affleck won Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea instead). That said, Gosling was the star who most benefited in terms of landing a new film project (though he surely won’t be the last). That’s not entirely a random happenstance, however, as his new project is one that he’s coproducing himself (and indeed, he has not yet actually attached himself to the film as an actor). Ryan Gosling is producing an adaptation of the graphic novel called The Underwater Welder. If he does eventually sign on to star in the film, he would be playing, well, an underwater welder who has a bizarre, supernatural encounter at the bottom of the sea. The timing of this news is also interesting because just last week, Kristen Stewart also made headlines when it was revealed she was in talks to star in the similarly-titled disaster movie Underwater.
Keanu Reeves’ filmography has become so associated with action movies (Speed, The Matrix, John Wick) that it’s easy to forget he’s done a fair share of romantic films, too (The Lake House, Something’s Gotta Give, A Walk in the Clouds). For his next film, he’s taking another break from all the shooty/punchy/kicky stuff and starring instead in a romantic drama about struggling with loss called The Starling, in which he’ll play a grieving man harassed by an annoying bird. Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) will costar as a woman who checks into recovery after her child dies, and Reeves will play her husband, who “decides to build a beautiful garden for his wife in their backyard, but as he does he is tormented by an aggressive, black starling. At his wits end with the relentless nature of the bird, he goes to see a veterinarian to find out if there is a humane way to get rid of it. The vet, the husband finds out, used to be a psychiatrist but gave it up to help animals instead. However, the quirky vet begins counseling the husband in a turn that neither of them really expected.” (Hopefully, that premise didn’t take us all the way to the end of the movie.) The Starling will be the English language debut of Finnish director Dome Karukoski, whose films have previously won a series of festival awards.
The long line of successful heavy-set male comedians dates all the way back to the days of “Fatty” Arbuckle, Lou Costello, and Oliver Hardy, who paved the way for stars like John Candy, Chris Farley, and Jonah Hill. Only recently has the same success found their female counterparts, with Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect), and others headlining their own hits on the big screen. The next comedienne who might be on the verge of movie stardom is Fortune Feimster, who is currently known for her recurring role on Hulu’s The Mindy Project. Feimster, a longtime writer for Chelsea Lately, has been working hard to “break through” on her own, having already sold three different TV pilots. This week, she made her biggest comedy movie pitch sale to DreamWorks Pictures, who picked up the rights to a police action comedy called Bad Cop, Bad Cop, with Feimster attached to star; it’s not yet known if she will play the first Bad Cop or the second Bad Cop. In addition to this major studio comedy, Feimster has also recently filmed roles in indie comedies called Deported and F*cking People.
Although her first film (2012’s Anna Karenina) did receive a borderline Fresh Tomatometer score, Cara Delevingne’s six movies since then (including Pan and Suicide Squad) have all received Rotten scores. Despite that streak, Delevingne has thus far not received any nominations yet from the Razzies (AKA the Golden Raspberry Awards), the organization devoted each year to shining a spotlight on the most Rotten roles and films of the year. Jaden Smith, on the other hand, did win two Razzies in 2014 for his exercise in nepotism, After Earth, the box office bomb he costarred in with his famous dad, Will Smith. Though he had a supporting role in Netflix’s The Get Down, Jaden hasn’t appeared in a movie since After Earth — that’s going to change soon, thanks to Will Smith’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment. Jaden Smith and Cara Delevingne are both now attached to star in a romantic drama called Life in a Year. Delevingne (age 24) will play a teenager who finds out she has just one year to live, so her boyfriend (Smith) sets out to fill that year with the equivalent of a whole lifetime together. Life in a Year will be the English language debut of Slovenian director Mitja Okorn, whose previous films have not yet received Rotten Tomatoes scores.
By this point, video game adaptations are sort of like Charlie Brown’s football to movie fans who regularly follow film development news. Every year, we hear about some promising new adaptation (Michael Fassbender in Assassin’s Creed, for example), and inevitably upon its release, the movie will earn a Rotten Tomatometer, the way video game movies usually do. You’d think Hollywood would have figured it out by now, but it’s such an undeniable trend that no amount of great talent is any guarantee that the film won’t end up Rotten. Take, for example, Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen, who has long been a top choice for many fans to get his chance at proper Hollywood stardom. He’s slowly getting there, with a featured role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and another recently in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, but even so, at 53, Yen continues to land mostly supporting roles. So from one perspective, it might have been great news this week that Yen landed the lead role in a movie that might be the start of a new action franchise. That is, until you remember that the reason you know the title Sleeping Dogs is because it was a cross-platform video game in 2012, forcing you to apply the aforementioned “video game curse” to the news. Assuming the movie follows the premise of the game, Donnie Yen will star as a San Francisco cop who is transferred to Hong Kong to infiltrate a Triad gang called the Sun On Yee. Sleeping Dogs appears to also be the latest project in the recent trend of Hollywood films with heavy connections to China, though this isn’t exactly great news, since recent examples of China/Hollywood collaborations include both Warcraft and The Great Wall. Some of the same producers behind this Sleeping Dogs movie are also actively developing the Sonic the Hedgehog video game adaptation (from Deadpool director Tim Miller).