The Cleveland Browns earned cheers this week for their first win since the Obama presidency. Meanwhile, another player (from another sport) continues to make the news as he transitions from Cleveland to Los Angeles, creating a lot of sweet movie deals in the process. LeBron James doesn’t make his Lakers debut until October 18th, but he already has 10 projects in development in both TV and film. The highest profile of these has, for a few years now (since 2015), been the planned Space Jam sequel, teaming James with the various Looney Tunes characters the same way Michael Jordan did in the 1996 family film. To get things going, LeBron is working with Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther and Creed, who will serve as one of the producers on Space Jam 2. Terence Nance of HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness will direct Space Jam 2 when it starts filming in 2019 after the upcoming NBA season ends. Warner Bros. will distribute Space Jam 2 probably in 2020. It’s not yet known what other current NBA stars LeBron James is hoping to recruit to join him and the returning Looney Tunes all-stars (or who might be the “Bill Murray,” if not the actor himself).
Marvel Studios is such a force to be reckoned with that, in some weeks, they could easily dominate half the Weekly Ketchup. This week, we’re going to group all of the Marvel news into one story. We’ll start with the just-breaking news that the summer-long director search for The Eternals has settled upon indie film director Chloe Zhao (The Rider, Songs My Brothers Taught Me). Zhao is following a similar path as previous Marvel choices (like the directors of Thor: Ragnarok and next year’s Captain Marvel). Her take on The Eternals will reportedly focus on a romance between Ikaris and Sersi (who, in the comics, was a longtime member of the Avengers in the 1990s). We also learned from Disney CEO Bob Iger this week that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige will oversee Fox’s various Marvel properties (X-Men, Fantastic Four, etc) going forward. On the (streaming) TV front, Marvel and Disney are also now preparing spinoff solo shows for both Loki and Scarlet Witch (it’s unknown if they will be prequels or sequels to the movies). Those shows on Disney’s upcoming streaming service are separate from ABC, which is reportedly developing a “female Marvel superheroes” series that is being written by Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman). On top of that, there was also that big first trailer for next year’s Captain Marvel (3/8/2019), and all of the things that we think we may have learned from it.
Over the course of the 24 “official” James Bond films to date, there have been many different takes on the character and the franchise, and several different actors playing him as well, including Daniel Craig, who is returning for James Bond 25. One constant, however, has been that the movies have always been directed by Brits. That all changed this week with the news that the search to replace Danny Boyle has ended with the hiring of director Cary Fukunaga (Jane Eyre, Sin Nombre; HBO’s True Detective), who was at one point attached to direct last year’s horror hit IT (he retained a writing credit on that film). James Bond 25 had been scheduled for 2019, but that was delayed when Boyle departed as director. With Fukunaga hired, James Bond 25 is now scheduled for release on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, 2020. It’s not yet known if that date was chosen because of any inherent romantic plot or if it’s just an example of counter-programming. The other major sequel currently scheduled for February 14, 2020 is Reese Witherspoon’s Legally Blonde 3. Other directors that had been previously mentioned as possibilities were Edgar Wright (Baby Driver), Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club), and Yann Demange (White Boy Rick). It’s also not known if Said Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman) will still be cast as one of the James Bond 25 villains.
It was just last week that Michael B. Jordan’s (Creed, Black Panther) name was floated out as a possible Superman replacement following Henry Cavill’s likely departure. This week, however, we learned that it’s a very different franchise that Michael B. Jordan is now joining, with the news that he’s signed with Paramount to star in a new series inspired by novels by Tom Clancy. Clancy’s most famous movie character is Jack Ryan, but there have long been plans to also adapt another character, CIA operative John Clark. Clark has been a supporting character in the past (played by both Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber), but Michael B. Jordan’s take on the character will be clearly in a lead role. The plan is reportedly to start with an “origin story” adaptation of Without Remorse, which would then be followed by an adaptation of Rainbow Six, which has already become a popular video game series.
As details emerged about Elizabeth Banks’ planned reboot of Charlie’s Angels, one of the changes was that the Townsend Agency is now an international “security and intelligence service.” This week, we learned that this means that each location will also have its own “Bosley,” with Elizabeth Banks playing one, and an esteemed Star Trek and X-Men actor playing another. That actor is Patrick Stewart, whom we learned last month has also signed on to reprise his role of Jean-Luc Picard in an upcoming new Star Trek series. The three new Angels that Banks and Stewart will be playing Bosleys to were already announced as being Kristen Stewart (Twilight), Naomi Scott (Disney’s new Jasmine in next year’s Aladdin), and newcomer Ella Balinska. Sony Pictures has scheduled this new Charlie’s Angels reboot for a year from next week, on September 27, 2019.
Last week’s big movies concerning DC Comics movies had to do with the likely departures of Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck as Superman and Batman. That doesn’t mean, however, that the studio is slowing down, as other projects continue to be developed and produced at a faster pace than they had been previously. Aquaman and Shazam! (via New Line Cinema) are both wrapped, and Wonder Woman 1984 and Joker are both filming, with Birds of Prey and The Flash in preproduction. Margot Robbie is already signed and announced to reprise her role as Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey, but that leaves her teammates Black Canary, Huntress, and Detective Renee Montoya yet to be cast. Warner Bros is now testing actresses for each role, with the goal being to sign them by September 30th, so they can train for the January start of filming. The Black Canary actresses include Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle, A Wrinkle in Time) and Jurnee Smolett-Bell (TV’s Underground), and possibly Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures) as well. For Huntress, Warner Bros is considering Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, Scott Pilgrim vs the World), Margaret Qualley (HBO’s The Leftovers), and Cristin Milioti (whose Star Trek-inspired Black Mirror episode won an Emmy this week). Justina Machado, who stars in Netflix’s One Day at a Time reboot, is one of the actresses who tested for Renee Montoya. In other casting news, Warner Bros has also cast Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) in Joker, and has replaced Alec Baldwin as Batman’s father Thomas Wayne with LOST costar Brett Cullen.
Although the 2010 documentary (and related TV show spinoff) Catfish became part of the decade’s new lingo, that film’s directors otherwise mostly produce horror and thriller films like Paranormal Activity 4 and 2016’s Nerve. Like many directors, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman are making the transition to Netflix, where they will direct an untitled science fiction movie about “a drug epidemic that gives people a range of superpowers.” The film sounds like it has an ensemble cast, with a female lead yet to be cast, but this week, both Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt signed on for roles. Jamie Foxx will play “a family man who has suffered a great loss and is desperate to trace the drug’s supply line and find its designer,” while JGL will play “a beat cop who takes law enforcement matters into his own hand.” Hopefully, this take on superpowers from the Catfish directors will earn a better Tomatometer score than recent similar Netflix movies like Bright (27%) and The Cloverfield Paradox (17%).
MGM has one of the oldest and largest back catalogs still operating in Hollywood, and for the past decade, much of their output has been reboots and remakes of old titles. Since 2008, that has included The Taking of Pelham 123, Fame, Carrie, Hercules, Poltergeist, Ben-Hur, RoboCop, The Magnificent Seven, Death Wish, Tomb Raider, Overboard, and next month’s A Star is Born. Well, MGM apparently isn’t going to stop doing this anytime soon, with the news this week that production will soon start on the remake of the 1988 horror hit Child’s Play, which led to the five movies of the “Chucky” series. Child star Gabriel Bateman will be Chucky’s new friend, Aubrey Plaza (Legion, Parks and Recreation) will play his mom, and they’ll also be joined by Atlanta co-star Brian Tyree Henry. The Child’s Play reboot is being directed by Norway’s Lars Klevberg (Polaroid), and you can see the first glimpse at the new Chucky doll right here. The first Child’s Play was Fresh at 67%, and though the sequels were all Rotten in the 23%-46% range, this remake offers an opportunity to right the ship, and the cast is a promising start.
If you want another clue that Hollywood’s definition of “old” isn’t necessarily the same as most everyone else’s, consider this week’s news about a planned return to Grumpy Old Men. When that film came out in 1993, its stars were 68-year-old Jack Lemmon and 73-year-old Walter Matthau. Even if one allows for a few years before the film is actually produced, Eddie Murphy is currently only 57. Of course, Murphy has played characters of all ages (such as in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps) in the past, so perhaps that’s what’s going on here. The Hollywood Reporter is calling the planned reboot a remake of Grumpy Old Men, while Variety says it’s just “inspired by” it, as does Deadline. Eddie Murphy’s director on the movie will be Tim Story, whose Tomatometer has been entirely Rotten since 2002’s Barbershop (if one doesn’t count Kevin Hart concert films).
Last December, director Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects) was fired by 20th Century Fox from their Freddy Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, reportedly because he repeatedly didn’t show up to set. In the same week, however, there were also reports about a lawsuit related to sexual assault allegations from 2003. Eventually, Singer’s directing credit on Bohemian Rhapsody was confirmed, and the film is still scheduled for November 2nd, 2018. Millennium Films is now reportedly in talks with Singer for their remake of Red Sonja (15%), which has been in development for over a decade now. (Coincidentally, Rose McGowan, who is one of the key figures behind the #metoo movement was once attached to co-star in Red Sonja). The blog reactions were uniform this week, including from sources like Collider and SyFy Wire. We’re just going to say that a remake of a 15% misfire like Red Sonja is a “Rotten Idea” anyway.