Today’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news, covering titles like ‘Salem’s Lot and Tom and Jerry, and new roles for Ben Affleck, Peter Dinklage, and Jennifer Lopez.
The dark 1947 carnival drama Nightmare Alley is not as famous as other examples of “film noir,” but it remains a dark, creepy film worth seeking out. The film’s profile is about to rise much higher in the next year or two, though, because Guillermo del Toro has decided a Nightmare Alley remake will be his next film as director, after the Academy Award-winner The Shape of Water. Leonardo DiCaprio will headline Nightmare Alley in the lead, a carnival showman who rises to fame by pretending to talk to the dead as a medium, taking over the role played by Tyrone Power in the original. The 1947 movie was an adaptation of a 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham that did take some liberties with the story (especially the ending), so it’s possible that GDT’s adaptation will be closer to the source material. Nightmare Alley will start filming in late 2019, and will probably be released sometime in 2020. Speaking of remakes, Guillermo del Toro also talked this week about his former plans for remakes of classic monster movies like Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, saying, “…I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
MGM and Eon Productions, the companies behind the James Bond franchise, staged a big event yesterday at Ian Fleming’s Goldeneye estate in Jamaica to promote James Bond 25. Some speculated that the event might reveal the title (it didn’t), but there were several casting revelations. As had been previously reported, Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) was confirmed to be the film’s villain. The biggest “new” news was that Jeffrey Wright, who skipped Skyfall and Spectre, will be returning as CIA agent Felix Leiter, joining Daniel Craig’s Bond on an international adventure to rescue a kidnapped scientist. Whatever it’s called, the 25th official James Bond film will be directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation, HBO’s True Detective) when it’s released on April 8, 2020.
This year marks seven years since the release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, which was, for the most part, the last successful Hollywood movie featuring traditional vampires (2014’s Dracula Untold, not so much). Sony and Marvel are now filming Morbius (starring Jared Leto) for release next summer (7/31/2020), so that’s at least a vampire movie coming out soon. A new project that will be further out is an adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, which was previously adapted twice as a TV mini-series in 1979 and 2004. Producer James Wan and screenwriter Gary Dauberman previously collaborated on The Conjuring spinoffs Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, The Nun, and the upcoming Annabelle Comes Home, and are now reuniting for ‘Salem’s Lot. Stephen King’s original 1975 novel is about an author who returns to his hometown to discover that a spooky mansion is now home to a European vampire and his brood. (Note: The proper title of ‘Salem’s Lot starts with an apostrophe, because it’s an abbreviation of Jerusalem’s Lot, which is the town.)
HBO’s Game of Thrones has an extended cast of dozens of actors, so with the show ending, we’re in the early stages of an expected deluge of post-Game of Thrones casting announcements. Many of them are European and mostly work outside Hollywood, but one of the stars who very much is a Hollywood star is Peter Dinklage (for example, Avengers: Infinity War). Dinklage’s next film will even be produced by Hollywood Gang, which is the company behind the “dark and twisted” thriller The Thicket. In it, he will star as a fierce bounty hunter named Reginald “Shorty” Jones, who is hired by a boy in Texas after his sister is kidnapped by a serial killer known as Cut Throat Bill.
Before he signed on to play Batman in 2013, Ben Affleck‘s career as director was moving pretty quickly, with three films in five years (Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo), all Certified Fresh. Affleck had to delay filming Live by Night for a while (it eventually came out in 2016), and now it’s been another three years since that film. This week, we finally heard what film he will direct next, for what will effectively be only his second film over the last seven years. Affleck will direct and star in Universal Pictures’ Ghost Army, which will be adapted from the book The Ghost Army of World War II: How One Top-Secret Unit Deceived the Enemy with Inflatable Tanks, Sound Effects, and Other Audacious Fakery. (The great thing about non-fiction books is how they can relate the whole premise in a subtitle.) One can draw a pretty obvious correlation between Ghost Army and Affleck’s Argo, which was also a fact-based drama about how moviemaking techniques were used to carry out a mission (in that case, the liberation of diplomats during the Iran Hostage Crisis). The Ghost Army was also adapted as a PBS documentary in 2013.
Although they’re mostly supporting roles, Angela Bassett has been racking up an impressive series of high profile films recently, including Black Panther (as his mom), Bumblebee (as the voice of the villain Shatter), and Mission: Impossible – Fallout (as the CIA director). This week, Bassett signed on as one of the leads in an action thriller called Gunpowder Milkshake, as “one of the unassuming leaders of a massive armory.” She joins two already-signed actresses who are also coming off very popular franchises: Lena Headey stars in HBO’s Game of Thrones as Queen Cersei Lannister, and Karen Gillan plays Nebula in Avengers: Endgame (and also co-starred in 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle).
After an early career that included The Illusionist (73% Certified Fresh) and Limitless (69% Fresh), director Neil Burger ( https://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/neil_burger ) is currently coming off two films below 43% “Rotten” (Divergent and The Upside). For his next film, Neil Burger has cast the male lead ( https://deadline.com/2019/04/voyagers-colin-farrell-lily-rose-depp-tye-sheridan-cast-neil-burgers-lord-of-the-flies-in-space-universal-agc-1202602566/ ) from The Lobster, Colin Farrell, along with a young cast that includes Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp, and Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark from Game of Thrones). The movie will be a science fiction thriller called Voyagers and show what happens when a spaceship with 30 young people sent to populate a new planet experiences a surprise disaster.
This summer, we’ll finally get the ninth feature film directed by Quentin Tarantino, the 1960s period piece, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but it won’t be the only movie in the next few years (or so) that borrows that naming convention, because Sony Pictures has won the screen rights to an upcoming Broadway musical called Once Upon a One More Time. As you might be able to guess, it will be a fairy tale musical using “classic” songs by Britney Spears (was Spears’ career long ago enough now to be considered “classic”? #thiswriterisold). The golden oldies that will be featured in the musical will include “Circus,” “Lucky,” “Toxic,” and “Oops I Did It Again.” There is not yet a writer or director for this movie, or an idea of who might star.
The romantic comedy has almost vanished from the big screen (except for rare films like Isn’t It Romantic?), but the genre is starting to enjoy a comeback, thanks in large part to streaming sites like Netflix. The distributors that are probably going to commit most fully to something like this are the indies or smaller studios that mostly focus on fringe or counterprogramming genres anyway. One such company is STXfilms, and this week, they moved forward with the romantic comedy Marry Me with Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson. Lopez will play a pop star who flees from her cheating groom at the altar and picks a random guy (Wilson) from the audience and marries him instead. Marry Me will be directed by Kat Coiro, whose three previous films all received Rotten Tomatometer scores.
Although their long-in-development sequel to Space Jam is the project that gets the most media attention (thanks to LeBron James), Warner Bros. is also moving along with their plans to reboot Tom and Jerry in just under two years (4/16/2021, to be precise). We’ve known for a while that Tom and Jerry will be a live action/animation hybrid (in the tradition of 1945’s Anchors Aweigh), with the title cat and mouse being mute characters (so they won’t have any voice actors). The lead human, we learned this week, will be Chloe Grace Moretz, who will play a hotel worker who hires a cat named Tom to get rid of a pesky mouse named Jerry who has taken up residence there. Tom and Jerry is the week’s most Rotten Idea not because of Moretz, but because it’s going to be directed by Tim Story, who hasn’t directed a Fresh movie that wasn’t a Kevin Hart comedy concert film since 2002.