Today’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news, covering titles like The Nun 2, The Six Billion Dollar Man, and The Suicide Squad.
The DC Comics movie The Suicide Squad might be over two years away (8/6/2021), but it’s already casting up. Although the initial news suggested it would have a new cast, we now know that a few actors are returning (Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis). The biggest new name so far has been Idris Elba (in an unknown role, not Deadshot as previously reported), but a new name emerged this week. John Cena is now in talks to co-star in The Suicide Squad, in what will be his first movie directly based upon a comic book (not counting arguments that Bumblebee was comic-book-adjacent). It’s not officially confirmed yet, but Collider claims that John Cena is up for the role of Peacemaker, which is the character that Dave Bautista would have played. Other new villains that director James Gunn is reportedly introducing in The Suicide Squad are King Shark, Polka-Dot Man, and Ratcatcher.
Letitia Wright’s Shuri was arguably the breakout star of last year’s Black Panther (as well as Avengers: Infinity War), but we haven’t seen her parlay the success of that role into a lot of other projects just yet. That said, Wright is in Donald Glover’s Guava Island (which you can watch here), and this week, she landed one of her first big post-Black Panther feature film roles. Letitia Wright will star in next year’s Death on the Nile (10/22/2020), which is both a sequel to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express and a remake, as Rosalie Otterbourne, one of the lead suspects in Agatha Christie’s oriinal 1937 novel. Director Kenneth Branagh will also reprise his role as Hercule Poirot, and he and Wright will be joined by Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer in what is essentially the second film of a new “Agatha Christie Cinematic Universe.” Meanwhile, Letitia Wright will also star in the English-language remake of Le Brio and co-star with John Boyega in the sci-fi romance Hold Back the Stars.
Though it’s looking like it will be the lowest-grossing live-action Transformers movie, producer/director Travis Knight’s Bumblebee has still earned close to half a billion dollars worldwide, and its Certified Fresh 92% on the Tomatometer extended a five-film streak for him. All of that put together probably helped him this week, as he is now attached to direct the long-in-development The Six Billion Dollar Man, adapted from the 1970s hit TV series The Six Million Dollar Man (title changed to adjust for inflation). Mark Wahlberg has long been attached to star as Col. Steve Austin, and he remains so. Part of the reason for the delay on The Six Billion Dollar Man was that it was previously a Weinstein Co. production, so it had to find a new home at Warner Bros. following the crisis.
Singer-turned-actress Janelle Monáe will be starring in an untitled “racial thriller” for Lionsgate, and this week, we learned that the film will also feature several familiar faces from film and TV. Monáe’s new co-stars will include Kiersey Clemons (Dope), Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire), Jena Malone (Donnie Darko, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire). Janelle Monáe will be starring as “a woman desperately trying to flee her captors,” although the setting and premise is otherwise unknown. This project will mark the feature film debut of the “Bush + Renz” directing team ( https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10065694/ ), who have previously worked on musical videos including Jay-Z’s “Kill Jay-Z.”
Some of the many repercussions of Disney’s acquisition of the Fox film and TV properties have been rather surprising. This week, for example, there was news of a director based almost entirely at Warner Bros. since the 1970s who’s now considering switching sides to work for Disney/Fox. That director is Clint Eastwood, who may sign on to direct The Ballad of Richard Jewell. If that name sounds familiar, it may be that you remember the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, when a security guard named Richard Jewell who discovered a bomb was then accused in the media of actually being the bomber himself (he wasn’t). The Ballad of Richard Jewell has been in development for several years, including a period when it was a starring vehicle for Jonah Hill (who is no longer attached to star).
Former Saturday Night Live star Kristen Wiig has a handful of films on the horizon, including Where’d You Go, Bernadette (8/16/2019) and Wonder Woman 1984 (6/5/2020) (as the villain Cheetah), but this week, she secured a couple more.. Wiig’s first new project is Netflix’s A Boy Called Christmas, which will feature British actresses Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) and Dame Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), as well as Jim Broadbent and Toby Jones. Kristen Wiig is also reuniting with her Bridesmaids cowriter Annie Mumolo on a comedy called Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Wiig and Mumolo will costar as two friends from a small Midwestern town who “go on vacation in Vista Del Mar, Florida, where they soon find themselves tangled up in a villain’s evil plot to kill everyone in town.”
With The Hunger Games done and the X-Men franchise wrapping up with Dark Phoenix (6/7/2019), Jennifer Lawrence will soon no longer be a part of any major active franchises. While she remains attached to Adam McKay’s Bad Blood as Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, it appears that film’s not yet ready to start production, and in the meantime, Lawrence had taken a year off from working. This week, though, she signed on for her first post-break project, and it’s an indie production instead of a big franchise entry. Lawrence will work with A24 on an untitled drama that will also be the feature film debut of theater director Lila Neugebauer. Nothing else is really known about this project except that it’s scheduled to start filming in New Orleans in June (so it might be set somewhere sunny? Yeah, we’ve got no clue).
We’ve known for a while that Marvel Studios is reportedly looking to cast an openly gay actor for one of the lead roles in next year’s The Eternals. This week, that scope narrowed considerably with this story claiming that they’re specifically looking for an openly gay actor who’s also of Asian heritage. In addition to Angelina Jolie, Marvel has also cast two Asian actors so far, starting last week with Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, HBO’s Silicon Valley), who is rumored to be playing the super speedster Makkari. The second was South Korean actor Ma Dong-seok, who is probably best known for his role in the zombie movie Train to Busan. Although Marvel Studios has not yet officially announced a release date for The Eternals, it may be their film scheduled for November 6, 2020.
It probably shouldn’t be that surprising (maybe just disappointing), but as Disney absorbs their newly acquired Fox properties, some pre-existing Fox projects may end up not happening. We now know this because Disney has pulled the plug on the “high profile” adaptation of the Mouse Guard comic book just two weeks before filming had been scheduled to start. (Whether the “mouse house” objected to Mouse Guard somehow is completely open to speculation.) Mouse Guard was to have been a motion-capture adventure with a cast that included Andy Serkis and Idris Elba, with other cast members likely to be added soon. Despite the sudden shelving, Mouse Guard could still happen someday, as Disney is allowing the project’s producers to shop it around to other studios.
This week’s The Curse of La Llorona (Rotten at 36%) is the sixth film in The Conjuring “Universe,” and the franchise is showing few signs of slowing down. Annabelle Comes Home is scheduled for June 28, 2019, and The Conjuring 3 is due next year on September 11, 2020. (We should also note the passing of Lorraine Warren, whose life inspired The Conjuring, at the age of 92.) Last year’s The Nun was a spinoff from The Conjuring 2, and the film went on to earn over $365 million worldwide. So, New Line Cinema is also now moving forward on development on a sequel to The Nun, starting with the hiring of screenwriter Akela Cooper, who’s previously worked on Netflix’s Luke Cage series. The Nun received a Rotten Tomatometer score of just 26%. Even if the sequel doubles that score, it would still be Rotten.