This Week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Star Trek, Swan Lake, and TRON: Ares.
(Photo by Derek Storm/Everett Collection)
It’s now been ten years since the release of the long-in-development sequel TRON: Legacy (Rotten at 51%), which was perceived by some as a box office disappointment, despite actually earning over $400 million worldwide. That sequel came about 28 years after the first TRON, but it looks like the gap between 2 and 3 will be a lot shorter. That’s because Disney is moving ahead with a third TRON movie, which will be directed by Garth Davis (Lion, Mary Magdalene). Original TRON star Jeff Bridges returned for TRON: Legacy, along with newcomer Garrett Hedlund, but it appears that the star of this third TRON movie will be Jared Leto (though it’s also possible others will return as well). Although plenty of what Disney makes these days is for Disney+, it sounds like this new TRON is indeed planned for a theatrical release (presuming the pandemic ends soon). We also learned this week, via Jared Leto’s Twitter, that the title will be TRON: Ares, which is a reference to the Greek god of war — maybe this is the name of Jared Leto’s character, or maybe it’s a God of War or Assassin’s Creed-style game that is the new film’s in-game setting. In related news, Jared Leto also confirmed on his Instagram this week that he is attached to star in an upcoming movie as famous “pop art” superstar Andy Warhol, although it’s unclear what movie that might be (an Andy Warhol biopic was announced in 2016, but not much has been heard of it since).
(Photo by Mark Rogers/©Universal Pictures)
Most of 2020 is completely “borked” when it comes to box office numbers because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but one of the year’s (relative) successes happened just before theaters shut down. Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions released their reimagining of the classic monster movie The Invisible Man (Certified Fresh at 91%), starring Elisabeth Moss, on February 28, earning $130 million worldwide (a number impacted by the shutdowns in March) before pivoting to a premium VOD release. Elisabeth Moss and her Love and Squalor Pictures production company are partnering again with Blumhouse on a psychological thriller called Mrs. March, in which Moss will also star. Mrs. March will be an adaptation of an upcoming novel by Virginia Feito about an “a polished Upper East Side housewife who unravels when she begins to suspect the detestable protagonist of her husband’s latest bestselling novel is based on her.” Moss said in a statement, “I read Virginia’s novel in one sitting and was so captured by it I knew I had to make it and play Mrs. March. As a character, she is fascinating, complex, and deeply human and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into her.”
(Photo by Universal Pictures)
It has now been eight years since Ben Affleck directed the fact-based Argo (Certified Fresh at 96%), which went on earn multiple awards including three Oscars (Best Picture, Best Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay). In the time since (partly because his role as Batman took up much of his time), Affleck has only directed one movie, Live by Night, which gave him his first Rotten score as director at 35% on the Tomatometer. This week, possibly hoping to attract the same critical acclaim that Argo earned, Affleck signed on with Paramount Pictures to direct another movie based on a true story in the 1970s. The movie is called The Big Goodbye, and it’s described as a “behind the scenes” depiction of the 1974 neo-noir drama Chinatown (Certified Fresh at 99%), directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson. The source material is the recent non-fiction book by author Sam Wasson, The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood. Affleck will also adapt the screenplay, and one of his producing partners will be Saturday Night Live showrunner Lorne Michaels. This deal comes in the year after both the death of former Paramount executive Robert Evans and the release of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Certified Fresh at 85%), in which director Roman Polanski was a character.
(Photo by Francois Duhamel/©Weinstein Company courtesy Everett Collection)
Speaking of Paramount Pictures, the studio has a new boss in Emma Watts, and Deadline reported this week that one of her top priorities is getting the Star Trek movie franchise going again. Watts, however, is also reportedly “in the process of figuring out which way to go,” and to that end, Paramount has put the brakes on the new Star Trek movie being produced by TV showrunner Noah Hawley (Fargo, Legion). Two other projects Paramount is still developing, however, are a time travel story involving Chris Hemsworth as Captain Kirk’s father in an alternate reality and Quentin Tarantino’s project. We also learned this week that Tarantino’s project reportedly involves “30s gangster(s),” which suggests that the classic episode Tarantino was inspired by was “A Piece of the Action,” which was set on a planet that adapted its culture based on Chicago in the 1920s. Within the context of Tarantino’s career, it sort of makes perfect sense that he would want to work on a Star Trek movie that references gangster flicks, as that’s a classic Hollywood genre he hasn’t yet paid homage to (a la war movies in Inglourious Basterds, westerns in Django Unchained, and martial arts movies in Kill Bill Vol. 1).
(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)
Every once in a while in our social media world, you might see someone’s reaction to a story before you see the original story. This week, for example, this Tweet from director Lulu Wang (The Farewell, Certified Fresh at 98%) in which she says, “I don’t believe in remakes” without providing any context appeared in many people’s feeds. What Wang was responding to were various trade stories that she is developing a film based on award-winning Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda’s 2013 film, Like Father, Like Son ( Certified Fresh at 87% ), many of which first used the word “remake” before changing it later to “inspired by,” etc. There are, of course, many ways in which a film can be inspired by, or even “based upon,” another film without being a direct adaptation (for example, George Lucas “loosely” based Star Wars upon Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress). The original Like Father, Like Son was about a couple who discover that their son was switched at birth, and the way they decide to address this new revelation. Lulu Wang could take that premise and do all sort of different things with it (including, for example, gender swapping so it’s actually about a daughter).
(Photo by Everett Collection)
Jamie Foxx won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his depiction of musician Ray Charles in 2004’s Ray (Certified Fresh at 80%). Then, in 2015, Queen Latifah starred in the HBO biopic Bessie (Certified Fresh at 90%) as early blues singer Bessie Smith, which won four Emmy awards for HBO. Together, they are now teaming up to produce Mahalia!, based upon the life of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972). Grammy-winning singer Jill Scott is already attached to star in the film, which is based on the novel Mahalia Jackson by Darlene Donloe. Mahalia Jackson was reportedly an inspiration for both Aretha Franklin and for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Incidentally, the Lifetime cable channel is also developing a Mahalia Jackson TV movie biopic.
(Photo by Kristin Callahan/Everett Collection)
As we’ve mentioned several times in this column, musical biopics are all the rage right now; upcoming projects include Aretha Franklin and Respect, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley project, I Wanna Dance With Somebody about Whitney Houston, and a Prince movie, not to mention the Mahalia Jackson movie mentioned just above. One of the biggest stars who has not yet ever been attached to a movie like this is Madonna, but this week, the singer teased at “something” via her Instagram account, where she posted a black and white video of her sitting on a couch with screenwriter Diablo Cody, apparently discussing an upcoming project, along with the text: “with multiple injuries what do you do? Write a screenplay with Diablo Cody.” Now, we don’t actually know anything more than that, but Cody has worked on a number of films, most notably with director Jason Reitman on 2018’s Tully (Certified Fresh at 87%), 2011’s Young Adult (Certified Fresh at 80%), and 2007’s Juno (Certified Fresh at 94%), for which she won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (she was also nominated for Young Adult). Madonna later followed her post with a video with musical emojis suggesting that whatever this project is, it somehow involves music (possibly Madonna’s own?).
(Photo by Everett Collection)
Movies sometimes take a long time to actually get made. For example, recent films like The Meg and Gemini Man actually both started development in the early 2000s, but didn’t get produced and released until over 15 years later. Animated movies don’t usually stew in development quite as long, but their actual production times can take much longer. Back in 2015, we first started to hear about an animated comedy called Blazing Samurai, which would feature the voices of stars like Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, Mel Brooks, Michael Cera, and George Takei. As the title and Mel Brooks’ involvement would suggest, Blazing Samurai is inspired by Brooks’ classic 1974 cowboy satire Blazing Saddles (Certified Fresh at 88%), but no doubt softened up for kids. (In related news, HBO Max this week added an opening warning to Blazing Saddles to address the racial jokes throughout the film.) Five years later, it was starting to look like Blazing Samurai had been abandoned, but the project is back in active production now with a budget of $46 million and an estimated completion date of late summer, 2021. Michael Cera voices a “a loveable mutt with big dreams of becoming a Samurai. When he finds himself with a new job as sheriff of Kakamucho, he also finds he may have bitten off more than he can chew given the town is inhabited solely by cats.”
(Photo by Jonathan Olley/©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Lucasfilm Ltd.)
Following the success of The Invisible Man, Universal Pictures has several plans to revive their classic Universal monsters, but they are not the only “classical” reboots the studio is developing. It was confirmed this week that Universal is also developing a movie called Swan Lake, based upon the famous Tchaikovsky ballet. Possibly best known in recent years for being the inspiration for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (Certified Fresh at 85%), Swan Lake is the story of a princess turned into a swan by an evil curse. Felicity Jones, who earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role as Jane Hawking in 2014’s The Theory of Everything (Certified Fresh at 80%) and starred in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Certified Fresh at 84%), is attached to star in Swan Lake, which is now being adapted by screenwriter Jessica Swale, who recently made her directorial debut with Summerland ( Certified Fresh at 76%).
(Photo by Hopper Stone/©Warner Bros.)
The 2018 comedy Game Night (Certified Fresh at 84%), starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, may have been something of a sleeper hit, earning over $117 million worldwide. Now, Bateman and Game Night screenwriter Mark Perez are preparing to reunite for another action comedy, this time with possibly a more ambitious premise and budget. That movie is called Superworld, and it’s an adaptation of a recent novel by author Gus Krieger. Superworld will be set in the near future of 2038 when every person on planet Earth now has superpowers, except one man (Jason Bateman), who gets his chance to prove himself when he takes on “a corporate overlord whose power is neutralizing anyone with a superpower.”