This week’s Ketchup brings you nine headlines from the world of film development news (the stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next), covering titles like The Eternals, The Flash, The Matrix 4, and Shazam! 2.
After years and years of development, Warner Bros. may have finally halted their plans (for now) for a live-action remake of the classic anime film, Akira, which until this week had been scheduled for May 21, 2021. WB yanked Akira from its release calendar entirely, and instead scheduled The Matrix 4 for that date. Both Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves are attached to return in their roles as Trinity and Neo, which is especially significant when we look at what other film is also scheduled for that release date: John Wick: Chapter 4, which is also the fourth entry in a Keanu Reeves franchise. One of the new actors signed to co-star in The Matrix 4 is Yahya Abdul-Mateen (Aquaman, HBO’s Watchmen), and this week, he was also joined by Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter, Frozen). Taika Waititi, who had been attached to direct the Akira reboot for 2021, will instead next direct the true-story soccer movie Next Goal Wins before moving on to direct Thor: Love and Thunder (11/5/2021).
Following the box office success last year of Aquaman, it was surprisingly revealed that an underwater horror movie called The Trench was being planned as an Aquaman spinoff (separate from Aquaman 2, which is scheduled fro release on 12/16/2022). This week, director Patty Jenkins revealed that she also has ideas about a Wonder Woman spinoff, but this one is arguably more directly related to the first movie in particular. Discussing next year’s Wonder Woman 1984, Jenkins said that the premise for Wonder Woman 3 is already known, and that the third movie is in the early stages of development along with a spinoff movie for The Amazons. Jenkins did not specify which Amazons would be the stars of such a movie, but one has to “wonder” if they wouldn’t include characters like Robin Wright’s Antiope or Lisa Loven Kongsli’s Menalippe, whose roles in Wonder Woman hinted at other stories featuring them as the main focus. Other characters with Amazon connections who might warrant their own movie include Artemis and Wonder Girl, AKA Donna Troy.
There will obviously be superhero movies in 2020 (Birds of Prey, Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984, Morbius, The Eternals, Venom 2), but it may seem like a quiet respite from the genre when you consider what’s coming in 2021 and 2022. That latter year is still relatively far off, so studios are still just starting to announce their plans, but going into this week, we knew about Aquaman 2 (12/16/2022), Black Panther II (5/6/2022), DC Super Pets (5/20/2022), and the animated sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (4/8/2022), to which Warner Bros. and DC have added two more. Let’s start with the sequel to this year’s Shazam! (Certified Fresh at 90%), which Warner Bros. has officially scheduled for release on April 1st, 2022. Going back to two of those Marvel-related movies, please take note that Shazam! 2 is being positioned just a week before the Spider-Verse sequel, and a little over a month before Black Panther 2, which means Zachary Levi will quickly have fierce competition from Marvel and/or Sony. The other movie to keep in mind here is Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam, which will come out on December 22, 2021, and which is directly related to the Shazam! mythos (since Black Adam is one of Shazam’s arch-nemeses). In related speculation, Marvel hasn’t yet scheduled Captain Marvel 2, but it might be in 2022 or 2023.
The other DC Comics superhero movie that Warner Bros. scheduled for 2022 this week is actually one of the projects that they first announced at a big press conference back in 2014. Many of those movies did in fact get made (Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Shazam!), but one of them that hasn’t yet is The Flash, starring Ezra Miller. That’s partly because directors have come and gone, and the rumored premise has shifted in those years two (including the period when it was subtitled The Flash: Flashpoint). The attached director now is Andy Muschietti (Mama, IT, IT: Chapter Two), and Ezra Miller is still expected to star in the movie as well. The Flash is now scheduled for release on July 1st, 2022, which makes it the second DC Comics movie of that summer, after the animated kids movie DC Super Pets (5/20/2022), featuring such four-legged super sidekicks as Ace the Bat-Hound, Krypto the Super-Dog, and Streaky the Super-Cat.
In 1989, future The Shield star Michael Chiklis starred in Wired, an adaptation of the best-selling book by Bob Woodward about Saturday Night Live star John Belushi’s battles with drug addiction that ultimately led to his death in 1982. Although ostensibly “about” John Belushi, that movie however had an otherwise narrow focus on just one aspect of Belushi’s life, so it arguably isn’t a true “John Belushi biopic.” However, one has been in development for several years (since 2013), and is now finally moving forward as an independent production. One has to presume that a major obstacle has been in finding an actor who can credibly portray John Belushi (sort of the point, one would presume) and the role has finally gone to Broadway star Alex Brightman, who will soon wrap up his run as Beetlejuice in June. Belushi will be directed by David Frankel, whose most famous movie was probably 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada (Certified Fresh at 75%), itself based on a roman à clef widely believed to be inspired by Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
In addition to San Diego Comic-Con and Disney’s annual D23, another annual event that is increasingly becoming a showcase for major movie news is the CCXP comic book convention in São Paolo, Brazil. This year, Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios traveled south to CCXP to show off early footage from next year’s The Eternals (11/6/2019). That footage hasn’t yet appeared online (and probably won’t anytime soon), but descriptions of it were reported by Collider, which you can read right here. It sounds like the scenes shown were relatively short, and were also “raw footage” without too much post-production effects. Instead, the focus was mostly on costume descriptions for characters like Thena (Angelina Jolie), Ajak (Salma Hayek), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), and Druig (Barry Keoghan). The event also confirmed that The Eternals (as their name suggests) will take place over a period of 7,000 years, and that in addition to the Celestials, another group that will be featured is the Deviants, who in the comics are the Eternals’ more monstrous counterparts.
Early horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s works have had such an impact on the genre that “Lovecraftian horror” is nearly a subgenre in itself, but Lovecraft’s actual writings haven’t really been directly adapted into films, despite the efforts of directors like Guillermo del Toro (whose attempt at In the Mountains of Madness was infamously derailed). Instead, we’re soon going to get the HBO series Lovecraft Country, and two of HBO’s most famous showrunners are also taking Lovecraft on, somewhat more directly. Now that Game of Thrones is done, and their Star Wars project has been set aside, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss now appear to have more time on their hands, and one of the things they’re newly devoted to is an adaptation of the Vertigo comic book Lovecraft, which imagines a world in which H.P. Lovecraft’s disturbing science fiction stories were not fictional, but based upon his actual encounters with creatures like Cthulhu.
Taika Waititi’s World War II satire Jojo Rabbit arguably introduces most audiences to three new young stars (including Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie), and this week, one of them landed an iconic role in a new Disney+ movie. Ten-year-old Archie Yates, who plays Jojo’s best friend Yorki, has been cast by Disney+ to star as the new Kevin McCallister in their reboot of the classic Christmas film Home Alone. The evil criminals who try to invade Kevin’s home haven’t been cast yet, but we do also know that Kevin’s parents will be played by Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and relative newcomer Rob Delaney (Catastrophe). The Home Alone reboot will be directed by Dan Mazer (Dirty Grandpa, Rotten at 11%) from a screenplay co-written by Saturday Night Live star Mikey Day.
We’ve known for a while now that the third movie in the main The Conjuring series (not counting the various spinoffs like The Nun and the Annabelle movies) is scheduled for release next year on September 11, 2020. This week, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema officially announced that the title will be The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, which most infamously is a legal defense sometimes used by criminals accused of particularly vile acts. Although a common defense now, the movie will apparently attempt to depict the “first” time this argument was made in a court case, which, according to Wikipedia, was the 1981 case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson. Real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (to be played once again by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) were recruited by Johnson’s family in an effort to rid Johnson of his demonic influence. Aquaman director James Wan, who directed the first two Conjuring movies, will be busy with a new film called Malignant, so this third film will be directed by Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona, Rotten at 29%) instead.
Earlier this month, some movie fans may have been surprised when Aladdin star Mena Massoud revealed he hadn’t yet had a single new audition following the film’s box office success of over $1 billion worldwide. Relatively unknown before Aladdin, Massoud had won that role as part of a massive casting call that Disney staged for the characters of both Aladdin and Princess Jasmine in 2017. Considering how much attention his revelation made last week, you might think Disney would’ve held back on this week’s news, because the two stories together don’t paint a particularly pretty picture. Nevertheless, Disney+ has announced plans for an Aladdin spinoff movie starring Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders, a minor character who didn’t exist in the original animated film and was newly created for the live-action adaptation. It’s not yet known if any other Aladdin co-stars will also be cast.