Today’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Bill & Ted Face the Music, Black Widow, and Masters of the Universe.
Director Christopher Nolan is notoriously secretive about the premises behind his films (we’re thinking here of Inception and Interstellar, in particular). Warner Bros. has scheduled Nolan’s next movie for July 17, 2020 (up against the Bob’s Burgers movie, and the week after Ghostbusters 3), and we still have very little idea what it’s about, but this week, we learned of three stars who have joined the film. The first actor announced was John David Washington, who is coming off the lead role in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. Variety reported at the same time that Nolan’s film will be “a massive, innovative, action blockbuster, which will again be shown in Imax,” which is better than nothing, but still not much. The second star to be announced was Robert Pattinson, who first came to fame in the Twilight Saga movies but has mostly been working in independent film since. Finally, we also now know that the first actress announced was Elizabeth Debicki, who recently earned the admiration of critics in Steve McQueen’s Widows. Nolan’s film sounds like it might have an ensemble cast, so there are potentially still be more names yet to be announced.
Although several of the MCU’s stars were obviously already famous when they landed their roles in the franchise (Robert Downey Jr., Paul Rudd, and Benedict Cumberbatch, for example), some of them were decidedly less so (like Tom Holland, Tom Hiddleston, and Letitia Wright). So, if you want to get ahead of the game, you might want to check out the films of 23-year-old English actress Florence Pugh (Lady MacBeth, Outlaw King), because this week, she started talks for next year’s Black Widow. Although Pugh’s role isn’t known yet, it’s described as a spy on Black Widow’s level, which many sources are interpreting as the film’s main villain (or at least, adversarial) role. (Check out this Hollywood Reporter piece if you want some in-depth speculation about Black Widow.) Florence Pugh’s agents were busy this week, as she’s also now signed to star in the decades-spanning drama The Secret Ingredients of Rocket Cola, which will be directed by Scrubs star Zach Braff.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island) is not yet a household name, but he could be on his way, especially after his Metal Gear Solid dream project gets produced. Creed and Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society production company has now stepped up to team up with Vogt-Roberts to produce what is described as a monster movie set in Detroit (Vogt-Roberts’ hometown). The secret monster movie is also being produced by New Regency, which is also producing the upcoming Brad Pitt outer space drama Ad Astra (5/24/2019).
Presumably coincidentally, three big new movies (previously just known by their franchies) received their actual release titles this week. Let’s start with the Dora the Explorer movie, which lost 2/3 of that franchise title as the movie is now titled Dora and the Lost City of Gold (8/2/2019), as we can see on the new posters (which also show off the CGI Boots the monkey). Another franchise entry due out this year is the third Annabelle horror movie, which is now called Annabelle Comes Home (6/28/2019). Later this year, we’ll be getting the latest Terminator reboot, now called Terminator: Dark Fate (11/1/2019). Finally, there’s the Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark (9/25/2020), which is back to that title after briefly being shortened to Newark by some sources.
Emily Blunt has now wrapped her role in Disney’s Jungle Cruise movie (7/24/2020), based on their long-running theme park attraction, and won’t start filming the sequel to A Quiet Place (5/15/2020) until this summer. This week, Blunt started talks to star in Not Fade Away, an adaptation of the 2015 memoir Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found by Rebecca Alexander, as the author herself, who was “born with a rare genetic mutation that caused her to lose her sight and hearing over time, beat the odds and expectations of her prognosis.” Blunt’s husband John Krasinski will also produce the adaptation, along with director David O. Russell (Three Kings, American Hustle).
Like many (many) singers/rappers before her, Cardi B is preparing to make the transition to the big screen as an actress, as she will make her film debut in the drama Hustlers, about a group of ex-strippers who unite to take on Wall Street. The Hustlers at Scores, an article originally published in New York magazine, was the inspiration for the film. Cardi B will be part of an ensemble cast that also includes singers/actresses Jennifer Lopez and Keke Palmer, as well as Julia Stiles and Crazy Rich Asians star Constance Wu. STXfilms will distribute Hustlers, which started filming today in New York City.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Fresh at 78%) is a beloved 1980s teen comedy classic, and even if its sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (Rotten at 54%), wasn’t as warmly received, the franchise retains a big enough fanbase that news of a potential new sequel was cause for celebration. With that in mind, Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves went to the Hollywood Bowl to film their announcement video letting fans know that they expect to start filming this summer, aiming for a release next year of August 21, 2020. (We should point out that the last two weeks of August are sometimes considered a “dumping ground;” the comparable date last year is when A.X.L. and The Happytime Murders came out.) Bill & Ted Face the Music will be directed by Dean Parisot, whose filmography is mostly Rotten (Home Fries, Red 2), but he did give us Galaxy Quest, so here’s hoping he channels some of that energy into this movie.
Noah Centineo may not be particularly well-known to anyone who didn’t love the Netflix rom-coms To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Sierra Burgess is a Loser. Someone at Sony Pictures is clearly a fan, though, because that studio has cast the young actor to play the new He-Man in their long-in-development reboot of Masters of the Universe. That means the Netflix star will be stepping into the same muscle harness (symbolically at least) worn by Dolph Lundgren in the Rotten 1987 adaptation Masters of the Universe (Rotten at 17%). Centineo also recently worked with Sony on another reboot they’ve been working on for a while, namely this year’s Charlie’s Angels (11/1/2019), starring Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, and Naomi Scott (AKA Jasmine in Disney’s live-action Aladdin).
Although it’s easy to look back at the Marvel Cinematic Universe as something that exploded, fully formed, into existence, Marvel Studios only released The Avengers after four of its members had already had their own solo movies. Warner Bros. and DC Comics did the opposite with Justice League, which featured three heroes (Aquaman, Cyborg, and The Flash) who had not had their own movies yet, even if all three were planned. In those original plans, The Flash would have received his solo movie last year, starring Ezra Miller, with Cyborg and Green Lantern getting their movies next year (they’re not). There is reportedly a clash over The Flash, with screenwriters John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Spider-Man: Homecoming) creating a lighter tone, while Ezra Miller wants the movie to be darker. Hoping to save his place as The Flash, Miller is now working on his own screenplay with comics writer Grant Morrison. As we can see with Aquaman and Shazam, the new direction with DC Comics movies seems to be lighter and more fun, which, ironically, is how many fans would describe The Flash.
This week, Disney finalized its $71.3 billion deal to acquire the entertainment assets of the Fox film and TV studios. The deal has been widely applauded by Marvel Comics fans who are eager to see the X-Men and Fantastic Four characters and properties join the MCU (though probably not until 2021 or 2022). However, that also means that some or many of the projects that Fox had been developing may be shelved, including X-Force, X-23, Kitty Pryde, and Madrox the Multiple Man. There are also behind-the-scenes developments that aren’t necessarily “fresh developments.” For example, the Fox 2000 division, which will finish the projects already in production (ending with The Woman in the Window, starring Amy Adams), was shut down this week. That leaves a few movies “on hold,” including titles like League of Wives (starring Reese Witherspoon) and Paul Greengrass’ Civil War drama News of the World (starring Tom Hanks). Forbes has more on all of this right here. Director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) has also moved his production company from Fox to Universal Pictures. Finally, the most “Rotten” news of all of this: the deal is also expected to lay off some 4,000 Fox employees.
Homepage image by Melinda Sue Gordon @ Warner Bros. Pictures, courtesy the Everett Collection