This week’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news (the stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next), covering titles like Joker 2, Mission: Impossible 7, RoboCop Returns, and Star Trek 4.
The super villain origin story Joker is continuing its global box office success, which last week included reaching the $1 billion mark, making it the highest-grossing R-rated film ever. The success of Joker is made even more astounding when one considers that it had a relatively modest budget of just $55 million (considering superhero movies frequently cost upwards of $100-200 million, or sometimes more). So, it probably wasn’t particularly surprising when the news broke this week that Warner Bros. was developing a Joker sequel, but as it quickly turned out, some aspects of the story were disputable. It was reported that Todd Phillips had pitched Warner Bros. on a new slate of “gritty” DC Comics origin stories, but Phillips himself disputed how it was being interpreted, offering some clarification on what actually transpired. That, however, hasn’t stopped writers from speculating what other DC Comics villains could get Joker-esque origin stories (the obvious answer is usually Lex Luthor). As for the Joker sequel, that project is also inspiring a lot of theories, including a premise that would actually introduce another Joker who would become Batman’s villain. Warner Bros. has not announced a release date for Joker 2, but it would probably be sometime after 2021, when the studio will release The Batman (6/25/2021) starring Robert Pattinson. And speaking of which, The Batman director Matt Reeves announced via Twitter on Friday that John Turturro has joined the cast as Gotham mobster Carmine Falcone, previously played by Tom Wilkinson in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.
After taking a “sabbatical” in 2012 and 2013, director Steven Soderbergh came back with a flurry of activity that continued this year with two films on Netflix (High Flying Bird and The Laundromat) and one that has already wrapped for next year called Let Them All Talk. Soderbergh’s next film is expected to be Kill Switch, a 1950s crime drama set in Detroit from screenwriter Ed Solomon (Men in Black, co-writer of next year’s Bill & Ted Face the Music). He is reportedly now in negotiations with three actors who are all famously known for their roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Josh Brolin (Thanos), Don Cheadle (War Machine), and Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier). If they sign on, the three would play criminals who plot a home invasion only to wonder if they have been set up in a double cross. Kill Switch is currently an independent production, but it’s expected to be shopped around to major studios, based on its Marvel-level star power.
As happens every year around this time, each major studio will be making major release date announcements soon, and this year, it started with arguably the biggest player on the field right now, Disney. Let’s start by discussing the most mysterious dates, which are for untitled Marvel movies in 2023, on February 17, May 5, July 28, and November 3. These dates are on top of the movies we know about for 2020, 2021, and 2022, and also on dates in 2022 that don’t yet have titles specified yet. We can, however, make some educated guesses about what films might be scheduled for 2022 and 2023, based on the films that haven’t been dated yet, and those titles include the sequels Ant-Man 3, Captain Marvel 2, Deadpool 3, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as well as the reboots of Blade, Fantastic Four, and X-Men. Disney also pushed The King’s Man back from 2/14/2020 to September 18, 2020 and scheduled Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel for a platform release starting on December 25, 2020 that will expand wide on January 8, 2021.
It’s something of an understatement that when Disney fired (before eventually rehiring) director James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, they also inadvertently threw the schedules of the film’s cast sort of out of whack, and we’re still seeing the ramifications. One of those available co-stars is Pom Klementieff, A.K.A. Mantis, who joined the franchise with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Screenwriter and director Christopher McQuarrie took to Twitter this week to announce that Klementieff will be joining the Mission: Impossible franchise with Mission: Impossible 7 (7/23/2021), and if we take his use of the #MI78 hashtag literally, also for Mission: Impossible 8 (8/5/2022). The tweet didn’t specify what Klementieff’s role might be, but her reply, “Mischief: accepted,” might give us a hint.
Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss recently departed the Star Wars project that had been scheduled for December, 2022, but Disney has confirmed that they are still scheduling a Star Wars movie for that date (12/16/2022). Having said that, Disney is reportedly not yet ready to specify who their new Star Wars director will be, and will make that announcement in early 2020. Jon Favreau, who is currently basking in warm reviews for the Disney+ series The Mandalorian (Fresh at 89%), is reportedly one of the figures whose responsibilities are being stepped up at Lucasfilm. What we do know this week, however, is that the director of the 2022 Star Wars won’t be Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), and it won’t be Kevin Feige’s project either. Who do you think should direct the next Star Wars?
The last few months have been sort of rough for director S.J. Clarkson. Most recently, her Game of Thrones prequel series (the one with Naomi Watts) was cancelled in favor of a different prequel series called House of the Dragon (about the Targaryens). But before that, back in January, we learned that Paramount had pulled the plug on her Star Trek project. This week brought Star Trek fans some good news, however, as Paramount has hired Noah Hawley, the creator of the popular Legion and Fargo TV shows, to write and direct the next movie. The film, known as Star Trek 4 for now, is expected to be a de facto continuation of the “Kelvin” storyline featuring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, and others. It’s also worth noting that Quentin Tarantino’s R-rated Star Trek movie is also still in development, separate from this project.
Superheroes continue to dominate the box office as we prepare to enter the 2020s, but it’s also a continuation of a pop culture phenomenon that dates all the way back to the late 1930s, which marked the beginning of the Golden Age of Comic Books. That period obviously introduced many new characters and concepts, but one of the most enduring was the “super group,” with the Justice Society of America, which brought together characters like Doctor Fate, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Hourman, Sandman, and The Spectre. This week, Dwayne Johnson revealed at a press conference for Jumanji: The Next Level that his upcoming DC Comics movie Black Adam will also introduce the Justice Society of America for the first time in a live-action feature film. Johnson did not clarify which characters will be included, or whether any casting for those roles has begun. Warner Bros. has scheduled Black Adam for release on December 22, 2021.
Jay-Z is currently preparing for one of his first major projects as a film producer, which will be an “all-black western” for Netflix called The Harder They Fall. We’ve known for a while that the lead character would be played by Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco), and this week, we learned who will play the film’s “black hat,” or the villain. That role is going to Idris Elba, who for many people first came to attention as the drug lord Stringer Bell in HBO’s The Wire. As described by Collider, “The all-black Western follows outlaw Nat Love (Majors), who rounds up his old gang to help him seek revenge when he discovers that the man (Elba) who killed his parents two decades ago is being released from prison.”