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 such titles as Birds of Prey, Fast & Furious 9, and The Matrix 4.
The Matrix 4 is officially happening! Here’s everything we already know about Neo’s upcoming return.
Posted by The Rotten Tomatoes Channel on Thursday, August 22, 2019
Ever since George Lucas ended his original Star Wars story cycle with Return of the Jedi in 1983, the trilogy has been perceived as the most popular way to sequelize a popular film. That is, until someone realizes that a perceived demand is still out there, and then nicely tied-together trilogies lead to movies like Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and most recently, Toy Story 4. The surprise success of The Matrix (Certified Fresh at 88%) in 1999 quickly led to sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (which ended the trilogy on a downtick both critically and at commercially). This week, four years after the disappointment of Jupiter Ascending (Rotten at 27%), Lana Wachowski confirmed that The Matrix 4 is moving forward with both Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss returning as Neo and Trinity. Filming is expected to start in early 2020, and already this week, two key creative roles were filled: Wachowski is working with returning concept artists Geof Darrow and Steve Skroce, which suggests a unity in creature and production design. But in one departure, original trilogy cinematographer Bill Pope will be replaced by John Toll, who won back-to-back Academy Awards in 1994 and 1995 for Legends of the Fall and Braveheart (Toll’s next film is Harriet). Warner Bros hasn’t announced a release date for The Matrix 4 yet, but the filming start date suggests sometime in 2021 or 2022.
After being called just “James Bond 25” since the 2015 release of the 24th film, Spectre, this week we finally learned that the title will be No Time to Die. This makes Daniel Craig’s final film as James Bond the fourth movie in the franchise with the word “Die” or “Dies” in the title, following Live or Let Die, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Die Another Day, breaking the tie with the opposite words (You Only Live Twice, Live and Let Die, and The Living Daylights). The title also plays as a reference to the news last month that Captain Marvel co-star Lashana Lynch will be playing a new Agent 007 (ostensibly after James Bond retires). MGM has scheduled No Time to Die for release on April 8, 2020, as currently the highest profile film scheduled that month (its closest big competition is Disney’s Mulan on March 27, 2020).
One way that Marvel Studios changed the perception of who could direct “action movies” was by working with a series of directors whose backgrounds were not in the genre. We’re thinking here of comedy director Peyton Reed on the two Ant-Man movies, horror director Scott Derrickson and Doctor Strange, the indie directors of Captain Marvel, and even the Russo brothers, who were best known for directing TV’s Community before taking on Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Warner Bros. has recently followed suit with Joker (from the director of The Hangover) and Shazam! (from the director of Lights Out). Next year’s Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2/7/2020) was likewise directed by Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs), who we learned this week will be assisted in reshoots of some action sequences by director Chad Stahelski. Before making his directorial debut in 2014 with John Wick (he also directed the sequels), Stahelski worked as stunt and fight coordinator on dozens of movies, including V for Vendetta, The Hunger Games, Speed Racer, and The Wolverine.
Now that Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s Hobbs and Shaw (Fresh at 67%) characters have successfully been spun off into their own franchise (presumably), they’re not expected to be returning in next year’s Fast and Furious 9 (5/22/2020). As with many other franchises that have run this long, Universal regularly introduces new characters in each new film, and this week, we learned that the new additions to Fast and Furious 9 will include fan favorite Michael Rooker. (In addition to playing Yondu in the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Rooker also co-starred in The Walking Dead.) Although the nature of his role wasn’t otherwise specified, Rooker will reportedly play a new character named “Buddy.” Michael Rooker is the ninth film’s second major new cast member following John Cena, who signed on for Fast and Furious 9 in June.
At various points in the last year or so, Chris Pratt was expected to be filming both the (possibly shelved) action movie Cowboy Ninja Viking and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (not shelved, but it now has to wait for director James Gunn to finish The Suicide Squad). Instead, the next live-action movie (not counting Pixar’s Onward) Pratt will star in will probably be the science fiction thriller Ghost Draft. The premise involves a future war that humanity is losing against an alien race, leading to a plan that involves using time travel to recruit soldiers from the past (possibly our present) to fight in the present (our future) — time travel is so much fun to explain, isn’t it? Chris Pratt’s fellow Marvel co-star J.K. Simmons (A.K.A. J. Jonah Jameson) is now in talks to play Pratt’s father, while Betty Gilpin (from Netflix’s GLOW), Sam Richardson (HBO’s Veep), and stand-up comedian Theo Von are also in talks to co-star in Ghost Draft, which will be directed by Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie).
David Bowie’s song “Heroes” didn’t even crack the Top 100 in the USA when it was released in 1977, but the song has had a much longer legacy since, including frequent use in movie trailers. Netflix is also now planning a superhero movie called We Can Be Heroes (from the song’s chorus), which will be written, produced and directed by Robert Rodriguez, who is coming off his recent futuristic action film, Alita: Battle Angel (just this side of Fresh at 60%). The project already has a cast attached including Priyanka Chopra (TV’s Quantico), Pedro Pascal (HBO’s Game of Thrones), Boyd Holbrook, Sung Kang, and Christian Slater. The premise itself involves “the children of Earth’s superheroes [after their parents have been kidnapped by alien invaders]…. [who] must team up and learn to work together if they want to save their parents and the world.”
Although other studios continue to pull movies out of December, 2020 release dates (including Disney, who moved Cruella to the summer of 2021 this week), Paramount Pictures is sticking with Coming 2 America, which is now one of only five movies scheduled that month. (The other four are The Croods 2, Dune, West Side Story, and the video game adaptation Uncharted.) The sequel to the 1989 hit comedy Coming to America already had stars both old (Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, John Amos, and James Earl Jones) and new (Leslie Jones, KiKi Layne, Wesley Snipes), but a few more names were added this week as well. Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan was the biggest of the new stars announced, as he will be playing the “hustler” brother of Leslie Jones’ character, who is the mother of Prince Akeem’s son, the result of a one-night-stand. Rotimi (TV’s Power) also signed on for a role this week, as did Nomzano Mbatha and Garcelle Beauvais, who is actually reprising one of her first movie roles ever, as a “rose petal princess.”
We don’t yet know which studio will win the auction, but a new action project called Shadow Force is now attracting bids across Hollywood. Compared to a “fresh take” on the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie romantic action movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the Shadow Force pitch comes with two of TV’s most popular stars already attached: Kerry Washington (Scandal) and Sterling K. Brown (This is Us). The details pretty much end there, but if we’re meant to make direct comparisons to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, then Brown and Washington might be playing contract killers who are both married to each other, and who are hired to kill each other (but that’s just a guess).
It might be pure coincidence that these two films share similar themes, but in the same year that Liam Neeson’s snow plow driver action movie Cold Pursuit (Fresh at 70%) was released, the Irish star is taking on a new movie that could easily live in the same universe. Neeson is now signed to star in the action adventure The Ice Road as a big rig ice road driver “who, after a remote diamond mine collapses in the far northern regions of Canada, must lead an impossible rescue mission over a frozen ocean to save the trapped miners.” The Ice Road will be directed by Jonathan Hensleigh, whose career Tomatometer (mostly as screenwriter) sports nine Rotten scores and just one Fresh one for 2011’s Kill the Irishman. It’s not yet known if Cold Pursuit and The Ice Road will be followed by a third “cold weather driving” movie to complete a thematic trilogy (perhaps about driving a pack of sled dogs?).
What will the MCU look like without Spider-Man? We’re breaking down what the Sony/Disney split means for fans.
Posted by The Rotten Tomatoes Channel on Wednesday, August 21, 2019
If you follow online movie news at all (and by reading this far into this column, we suspect that you do), then you already know that Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures are parting ways over future plans for Spider-Man movies. Having said that, hopefully we can still give you some details you may not be aware of. First, to elaborate, Kevin Feige will no longer be involved with Sony’s plans for Spider-Man movies after Sony reportedly rejected an offer from Disney to share costs (and profits) in a 50/50 deal. Sony then responded with a series of Twitter responses that used words like “mischaracterized” and “disappointed,” which may have been a response to criticism from some fans who were quick to side with Disney, Feige, and Marvel Studios. It’s worth noting that Sony Pictures was also able to deliver both Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse without Feige’s help, which might have fueled their resolve. This week’s news also came just a few days after Spider-Man: Far from Home became Sony’s biggest box office hit ever. As for Tom Holland, he’s expected to continue to star as Sony’s Spider-Man (his contract still has two movies left, plus he could re-sign), and he’s also working with Sony again soon as the star of their video game adaptation Uncharted (12/18/2020). As for Sony’s plans, they retain their movie rights to over 900 Spider-Man-related Marvel characters, including Jared Leto’s Morbius (7/31/2020), Tom Hardy’s Venom 2 (10/2/2020), and other movies in development, like Kraven the Hunter, Black Cat, Silk, Silver Sable, The Sinister Six, and the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.