This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Barbie, Cleopatra, Joker 2, and One Punch Man.
(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
Depending upon how you count them, Warner Bros. currently has at least three DC Comics feature film continuities or “cinematic universes.” The largest is the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) which includes movies like Justice League (Rotten at 39%) and the upcoming Black Adam (10/21/2022), Shazam! Fury of the Gods (12/16/2022), and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (3/17/2023). Separate from those films, there is also The Batman and 2019’s Joker, both of which feature a “Joker” character (Barry Keoghan and Joaquin Phoenix, respectively) who is not the DCEU’s Joker (Jared Leto). Just last week, Joker director Todd Phillips revealed that the screenplay for a sequel called Joker: Folie à Deux has been completed, suggesting the introduction of a new Harley Quinn (who’s not the DCEU’s Margot Robbie). Well, Warner Bros. is wasting no time moving forward on that, because talks have already begun with the studio’s (and producer Todd Phillips’) A Star is Born (Certified Fresh at 90%) star Lady Gaga, while sequel talks with Joaquin Phonix also continue. As big as the news about Lady Gaga possibly (and presumably) playing Dr. Harleen Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn, in the sequel is, the biggest reveal may have been that the Joker sequel is also a musical (which obviously explains the Lady Gaga possibility). Joaquin Phoenix didn’t begin his career as a singer, but he did his own singing as Johnny Cash in the biopic Walk the Line (Certified Fresh at 82%). The first Joker was loosely inspired by the films Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, directed by Martin Scorsese (who at one time considered producing Joker), which begs the question of whether the sequel might be inspired by Martin Scorsese’s musical New York, New York (Rotten at 57%) or his various rock documentaries like The Last Waltz (Certified Fresh at 98%). No filming start date or release date for the musical Joker sequel have yet been announced.
(Photo by Marvel)
Spider-Man has one of the largest and most iconic rogues’ galleries of any comic book superhero, which is how, even after nearly a dozen feature films (including his MCU appearances), we still haven’t seen all of them on the big screen yet. Following the critical and box office success of 2018’s Academy Award winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Certified Fresh at 97%), Sony Animation is currently deep into production of two sequels called Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (6/2/2023) and Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse (3/29/2024). We’ve known for a while that Shameik Moore (the voice of Miles Morales) will be joined by stars like Oscar Isaac (Spider-Man 2099) and Issa Rae (Jessica Drew), but this week, we learned about a couple of villains. Rushmore star Jason Schwartzman will be providing the voice of the supervillain The Spot, who is described as being the second film’s main villain and who is also making his first appearance in any Spider-Man feature film. First introduced in 1985, The Spot is covered with interdimensional holes he can use both for travel and for a tactical advantage in combat (as seen in the image above). Lonely Island member Jorma Taccone has also been cast as the supervillain The Vulture, who has recently been played in the live-action films by Michael Keaton. Finally, the third new voice cast member in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse this week is Boardwalk Empire star Shea Whigham, who will be voicing NYPD Captain George Stacy, the father of Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld). George Stacey was previously portrayed in live action by both James Cromwell (in Spider-Man 3) and Denis Leary (in The Amazing Spider-Man ).
(Photo by Jasin Boland/©Marvel)
Not counting some of the animated shows, most Star Wars movies and Disney+ shows are all part of a single epic story, whether they be prequels, sequels, or spinoffs of supporting characters or villains. Even a movie like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Certified Fresh at 84%) eventually loops back into Star Wars: A New Hope in the third act, and The Mandalorian (Fresh at 93%) did something similar. Last month, following cancellations or delays for other Star Wars feature film projects, word came online that the next Star Wars feature would be the project directed by Taika Waititi as his next film after Thor: Love and Thunder (7/8/2022) and his soccer movie Next Goal Wins. Talking more directly about the project this week, Waititi confirmed that his movie will “expand the world” (or “worlds,” as it were) of Star Wars by introducing new characters and locations. Here’s more of what he said: “I don’t think that I’m any use in the Star Wars universe making a film where everyone’s like, ‘Oh, great, well that’s the blueprints to the Millennium Falcon. Ah, that’s Chewbacca’s grandmother.’ That all stands alone, that’s great, though I would like to take something new and create some new characters and just expand the world. Otherwise it feels like it’s a very small story.” Disney and LucasFilm have not yet confirmed a release date (or title) for Taika Waititi’s Star Wars feature film.
(Photo by ©Warner Bros. Pictures)
At the CinemaCon event in April, Warner Bros. revealed the first image of Margot Robbie in character as next summer’s live-action Barbie (7/21/2023), complete with her pink Barbie Dream Car against an equally pink background. Two months later, with Barbie still over 13 months away, Warner Bros. tweeted out a second image from Barbie, this time focusing on Ryan Gosling as Barbie’s boyfriend Ken (confirmed by his visible “Ken”-branded underwear). Again, the background is all neon-pink, and Gosling looks even more like a doll-come-to-life than Robbie did as Barbie. Director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, Little Women) is currently filming Barbie with a large ensemble cast that includes Kingsley Ben-Adir, Michael Cera, Will Ferrell, America Ferrera, Simu Liu, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, and Alexandra Shipp. Some of those actors will be playing alternate versions of Barbie and Ken, as revealed by Marvel’s Simu Liu, who recently revealed that he had to have his entire body waxed calling it, “one of the most painful experiences of my life.”
(Photo by RCF/Everett Collection)
Some pretty big names in Hollywood have been trying to get a new Cleopatra biopic produced since at least the 2000s, reintroducing the Egyptian queen previously played by Claudette Colbert (Fresh at 82%) and Elizabeth Taylor (Fresh at 60%). For a while, Angelina Jolie was attached to star, and the potential directors have ranged from James Cameron (soon after Avatar came out) to Paul Greengrass to David Fincher to Ang Lee to Denis Villeneuve. By 2020, however, that project finally fell apart, and Gal Gadot and her Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins started development of their own Cleopatra historical epic based upon a screenplay by Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island, co-writer of Alita: Battle Angel). Gadot and Jenkins are still committed to getting Cleopatra produced, but there have been a few more changes along the way. Deadline reports that Cleopatra is in the process of moving from Paramount Pictures to Universal Pictures (deal not signed yet), and that the attached director is now Kari Skogland, with Patty Jenkins still on board as producer. Skogland has a prolific record as the director of mostly television projects, including last year’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fresh at 83%), which led to her also being attached to direct Captain America 4, starring Anthony Mackie. The reported reason for the shift to Universal is because “Paramount was not prepared to meet the timeline that the creative elements necessitated.” There is no current release date for Gal Gadot’s Cleopatra.
(Photo by New Line courtesy Everett Collection)
Four months ago, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema announced that they are deep in production on an anime feature film called The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim directed by Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) and scheduled for release on April 12, 2024. That anime feature is still almost two years away from release, but we now know the names of some of its voice actors. The film will revolve around the House of Helm Hammerhand, a King of Rohan whose tale was told by J.R.R. Tolkien outside (and 183 years before) the main Lord of the Rings narrative, and he will be voiced by Succession star Brian Cox. Miranda Otto, who played Éowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan, in Peter Jackson’s films, will narrate the film. Other characters will include Helm’s daughter Hera (Gaia Wise) and a character named Wulf (voiced by Luke Pasqualino). Other voice actors (whose characters aren’t yet known) include Jude Akuwudike, Lorraine Ashbourne, Shaun Dooley, Janine Duvitski, Bilal Hasna, Yazdan Qafouri, Benjamin Wainwright, Michael Wildman, and Laurence Ubong Williams. The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim is being executive produced by Phillippa Boyens, Peter Jackson’s screenwriter partner on The Lord of the Rings.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
In a surprising move back in April, five-time Fast & Furious franchise director Justin Lin dropped out of Fast X after filming had already started. With just Fast X and its sequel left in the franchise, it appears all but confirmed that Lin is gone for good, but we now have an idea what his new action franchise might be. Lin is now in talks with Sony Pictures to direct their adaptation of the popular manga and anime series One Punch Man. Despite the continued popularity of anime, Hollywood remains relatively slow in its willingness to develop and produce adaptations of popular anime titles, but Sony in particular seems more active in that department. One Punch Man tells the story of a superhero named Saitama who has the ability to defeat any enemy with just one punch, but he soon grows bored and seeks out new challenges. One Punch Man is currently being adapted by screenwriters Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner, who co-wrote Venom (Rotten at 30%) and Jumanji: The Next Level (Fresh at 71%). Sony Pictures has not yet announced a release date for the live-action One Punch Man film.
(Photo by Newscast/Getty Images)
Just about a year ago, Jerry Seinfeld announced that he will be directing (in his feature film debut), producing, and starring in a movie for Netflix called Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story, telling the true story about how the popular breakfast snack was first invented and introduced. Seinfeld and Netflix appear close to getting the Pop-Tart movie actually produced, as this week, a large ensemble cast was announced, and it’s pretty impressive. Unfrosted will co-star Hugh Grant, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer, Sarah Cooper, Jim Gaffigan, Max Greenfield, Tom Lennon, James Marsden, Adrian Martinez, Jack McBrayer, Bobby Moynihan, and Christian Slater.
(Photo by Nickelodeon)
Despite the popularity of the anime series Avatar: The Last Airbender (Fresh at 100%), the 2010 attempt at a live-action feature film adaptation was much more poorly received (Rotten at 5%). Hindsight being 20/20, The Last Airbender may have caused some confusion by opening soon after the release of James Cameron’s similarly-titled Avatar (Certified Fresh at 82%), which led to the former dropping the “Avatar” from its title. We’re still waiting for the first of James Cameron’s four sequels to the latter, Avatar: The Way of Water (12/16/2022), but Paramount and Nickelodeon are now developing their own batch of three new Avatar: The Last Airbender animated movies. It’s unclear what they will be based upon or adapted from, as there are at least three major Avatar: The Last Airbender-related TV series (the original from 2005 to 2008, The Legend of Korra from 2012 to 2014, and an upcoming live-action series on Netflix). It’s also possible these movies could be entirely original and not based on any specific previous story or epic. Paramount has not yet announced a release date for the first of the three animated features, which will be directed by Lauren Montgomery, who worked on the original Avatar: The Last Airbender series as a storyboard artist.
(Photo by 3D Realms)
Duke Nukem is a long-running video game franchise that has become infamous among many gaming fans over the last 20+ years almost as much for its delays and cancelled games as for the games themselves. In that way, Duke Nukem fits right in with the world of film development, where high-profile movies also sometimes take several years (or decades) to get made, and some never do. Video game movies are also just starting to experience a (relative) uptick in their Tomatometer scores (with recent films like Pokemon Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog), so we’ve been seeing more adaptations announced lately. The creative team behind the popular streaming series Cobra Kai (a spin-off of the Karate Kid movies) has picked up the movie rights to the Duke Nukem video game franchise, to be produced by Legendary Entertainment. Legendary is now looking for a screenwriter to adapt Duke Nukem. There is not yet a director, but “the door is open” for one of the Cobra Kai directors to take it on.