Up until three years ago, one of the Star Wars Story solo projects closest to happening (after Rogue One and this week’s Solo) was a prequel focusing on the pre-Empire Strikes Back adventures of the bounty hunter called Boba Fett. The plan at that point was for Boba Fett: A Star Wars Story to be helmed by a young director named Josh Trank, who had made his debut with the 2012 “found footage” superhero movie Chronicle. So, what changed in 2015? Trank’s second movie, the reboot of Fantastic Four (9% on the Tomatometer) happened. Reportedly, this led to the director’s departure from Boba Fett (and just before they were set to make a big announcement at that year’s Star Wars Celebration event). In the three years since, Boba Fett has been a “what-might-have-been” fantasy, but now, it’s back on. To revive the project, Lucasfilm has recruited director James Mangold, who is coming off a hot two-film run with Fox on Hugh Jackman’s two most recent X-Men spinoffs, Wolverine (69%) and Logan (Certified Fresh at 93%). It has not yet been confirmed whether Mangold’s Boba Fett will remain a prequel, but that’s the general presumption online, since Rogue One and Solo both were. It should be noted that the film is presumably a few years away from happening, as the director’s next project is still expected to be Ford v. Ferrari, about the automotive rivalry behind the scenes at the Le Mans race in 1966.
You might recall that in late March, there was a report that Matt Damon had turned down a major villain role in next year’s sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming. When The Weekly Ketchup reported on the decision, this writer predicted that the secret villain in question would be Mysterio, one of Spider-Man’s best long-time super villains who hasn’t yet been depicted in a live-action movie. Well, we can now confirm that Jake Gyllenhaal is in talks to co-star in Spider-Man: Homecoming 2, and the villain role is indeed Mysterio, the former movie industry F/X expert who uses his techniques for crime. Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios have scheduled the not-yet-titled sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming for July 5th, 2019, which puts it up against the sequel to Annabelle: Creation.
Ever since the relatively-recent successes of franchises like The Avengers and The Conjuring, one of the top prizes in Hollywood has been the concept of building a “cinematic universe,” and with that, one of the key narrative features is “world building.” Although we’re only two films in, John Wick and its sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 arguably succeeded because so much care was put into building a world that Keanu Reeves’ character inhabits. For the third film, currently called just John Wick 3 (5/17/2019), Reeves will be joined by an even larger cast of stars that seems likely to continue building that aforementioned world. The new female lead will be played by Halle Berry (coming off another action sequel, last year’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle), and Anjelica Huston will play the mysterious assassin leader called The Director. Other ominous roles will include Zero (Mark Dacascos), The Tick Tock Man (Jason Mantzoukas), and The Adjuciator of the High Table (Asia Kate Dillon). Keanu Reeves’ competition on May 17th, 2019 currently includes the sequel A Dog’s Journey, the YA adaptation The Sun is Also a Star, and the Elton John musical Rocketman (starring Taron Egerton, star of the Kingsman franchise).
A running joke on Howard Stern’s popular radio show last year was that he was producing a stage musical about Roger Ailes of FOX News (or is it a joke?). That, however, was also before the #metoo movement and the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and others. Brad Pitt is now co-producing a movie about the Weinstein story, and a movie about Ailes and FOX News is also being fast tracked (by Annapurna, Pitt’s aforementioned coproduction partner). We don’t yet know who will be playing Roger Ailes, but the currently-untitled project’s first casting announcement involves a major A-list star. Charlize Theron is now attached to co-star as former Fox News anchor (and current The Today Show star) Megyn Kelly. The project about the sexual allegations behind the scenes at FOX News will be directed by Jay Roach (Game Change, The Campaign, Trumbo) from a screenplay by Charles Randolph (cowriter of The Big Short), both of whom have tackled politically charged films with great success.
There was a great deal of coverage of the pay disparity last year between Wonder Woman and Justice League star Gal Gadot and that of some of her male co-stars. One positive outcome of Gadot’s deal with Warner Bros is that she now has a production deal with the studio, and this week, we learned of one of her first projects. Gal Gadot and former Warner Bros executive Sue Kroll are now producing an adaptation of a Politico article published last month. That article was called “My Dearest Fidel: An ABC Journalist’s Secret Liaison With Fidel Castro,” and its subtitle, “The untold story of how Lisa Howard’s intimate diplomacy with Cuba’s revolutionary leader changed the course of the Cold War,” tells you even more (except that much of the story is set in 1964, boom). In addition to producing, Gal Gadot may also star in this politically charged romance as Lisa Howard, the reporter who reportedly befriended Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Following the runaway box office succcess ($700 million worldwide) of last year’s IT, New Line Cinema is now preparing to adapt the rest of Stephen King’s novel, in which the Losers Club reunites 30 years later to finally defeat Pennywise. Jessica Chastain was the first to be cast as the adult Beverly, followed by James McAvoy and Bill Hader, who will play Bill and Richie, respectively. Two more actors were cast as adult Losers Club members last week, but neither was quite as famous as any of the first three. That deeper bench of adult Losers Club members expanded again this week, with the casting of New Zealand/Australian actor Jay Ryan as the adult version of Ben Hanscom. Jay Ryan has worked the most on TV shows like Top of the Lake, Beauty and the Beast, and Mary Kills People. Ben Hanscom, in the first movie, was the “new kid” who did much of the research into the past of the scary clown monster Pennywise. New Line Cinema has scheduled IT: Chapter Two for release on September 6th, 2019, the week before Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle‘s next film before moving on to James Bond 25, scheduled for November 8th, 2019, the first under a new distribution deal announced last year.
Following the box office success in 2015 of the N.W.A. musical biopic Straight Outta Compton, there was much speculation about which other classic rap groups could next receive their own movies. One candidate seemed to be Public Enemy, but Chuck D was quick to note that such a movie is probably unlikely to happen anytime soon. We note this because if such a movie does get produced, it will probably need a different title (though the N.W.A. movie wasn’t called N.W.A. either). That’s because basketball star LeBron James and Channing Tatum are partnering on an action comedy pitch for New Line Cinema called exactly that, Public Enemy. Without giving away details, Public Enemy is described as “a subversive action-comedy that looks at the speed of media in our current landscape.” Presumably, LeBron James and Channing Tatum are producing Public Enemy with their eyes on co-starring together.
The Weekly Ketchup typically only features ten stories each week (granted, this week is an exception), and in some cases, the ever-growing streaming behemoth that is Netflix has the potential to dominate the whole column. That scope is only getting bigger, too, with the news that Deadpool 2 star Ryan Reynolds is teaming with Michael Bay for Six Underground, Netflix’s most expensive action movie yet, about a group of billionaires who fake their own deaths so that they can fight crime, sort of like real world superheroes. Idris Elba is also going to direct, star in, and do the music for a new adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Netflix. In addition, while don’t know any specific titles yet, former POTUS Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama have also signed a multi-year contract with Netflix to potentially produce series, mini-series, documentaries, or feature films. Finally, speaking of the Oval Office, Jennifer Aniston and comedian Tig Notaro will star in the Netflix comedy First Ladies as the first lesbian couple to inhabit the White House (with Aniston as the POTUS and Notaro as the First Lady). We can expect most of these projects to start streaming sometime in 2019, or at the latest, 2020.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were the stars of the Men in Black trilogy, but some of the best zingers came from Zed, their boss, as played by Rip Torn. We’ve known for a while now about Sony Pictures’ plan for a “spinoff” that would feature Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. We still don’t know the premise that makes it a spinoff, but we got another hint this week. Taken star Liam Neeson is now in talks with Sony to co-star as the leader of the “U.K. branch of the titular agency, a counterpart to Rip Torn’s role as Zed.” With that information, we can now guess that the fourth Men in Black film is switching continents to Europe and/or England. Sony Pictures has scheduled the film for June 14th, 2019, which puts it up against the sequel Son in Shaft, a week after The Secret Life of Pets 2, and a week before Pixar’s Toy Story 4.
There has been a lot of news in the last year or so about Paramount Pictures’ future plans for the Transformers franchise, including Michael Bay’s comment last year that there are a total of 14 movies already written, waiting to be produced. The first one to come out of the “Transformers writers room” is this year’s Bumblebee (12/21/18), which appears to be both a prequel (set in the 1980s), and a character-centric spinoff. Until this week, however, all we really knew about Transformers 7 was that Paramount had given the film a release date next summer of June 28th, 2019. Well… not so fast. We can now confirm that Paramount has yanked Transformers 7 not just from that date, but from their schedule altogether. The emphasis now appears to be on other Hasbro adaptations (like G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes, Micronauts, M.A.S.K., and Rom: Spaceknight). That might mean that we will indeed get a Transformers reboot at a later point (that, for example, could feature character designs closer to the classic 1980s cartoons), but after Bumblebee, this current six-film cycle may be completed. We’re calling this a borderline “Fresh Development,” because it means a halt — or a t least a pause — for a franchise with consistently low Tomatometer scores.
It has now been six years since Clint Eastwood last starred in a movie (2012’s Trouble with the Curve), and ten years since he both directed and starred in a movie (2008’s Gran Torino). At the age of 88, Eastwood is now preparing to do both again in his next directorial project, titled The Mule. Eastwood’s American Sniper star Bradley Cooper is also in talks to co-star with him in The Mule, which will be an adaptation of this 2014 article from New York Times Magazine about a 90-year-old drug mule for the Sinaloa Cartel, and Eastwood will play a fictionalized composite character. If he signs on, Cooper will play a “hard-charging DEA agent tracking Eastwood’s character, “a man in his 80s who is broke, alone, and facing foreclosure of his business when he is offered a job that simply requires him to drive” (carrying major drugs). In other Bradley Cooper news, it appears that his Leonard Bernstein biopic, called simply Bernstein, may now have the edge over the project Jake Gyllenhaal is attached to star in, because Cooper’s project now has exclusive film rights to Bernstein’s compositions. We’re calling The Mule this week’s Rotten Idea because of his spotty record with fact-based films.