Today’s abbreviated Thanksgiving-week Ketchup brings you six headlines from the world of film development news, covering titles such as Cats, the Sopranos prequel, and the Birds of Prey movie.
Wes Anderson is one of those directors with indie/arthouse roots who defies expectations from film to film. For example, his most recent film was a stop motion animated movie with a large ensemble cast playing talking dogs in Japan (Isle of Dogs, Certified Fresh at 89%). For his next film, Anderson is reportedly preparing for a French musical set during the post-World War II era, and the last week has seen a series of (unconfirmed) casting stories. The first came out last Tuesday, with a list of rumored stars including Bill Murray (Anderson’s most frequent collaborator), as well as Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson (also frequent Anderson collaborators). Three days later, another story came out that two other possible co-stars were Brad Pitt and Natalie Portman. The third story seemed to confirm the casting of Tilda Swinton (also a frequent Anderson actor), as well as French actress Lea Seydoux (Spectre, Blue is the Warmest Color). We can probably expect a full ensemble cast announcement sometime soon.
The last few weeks have brought a series of news stories about movies inspired by TV shows like Breaking Bad, Deadwood, and Downton Abbey. So, one would be forgiven if they’d forgotten about The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel movie to HBO’s The Sopranos, which was announced in March of this year. That movie is, however, still moving forward with the news this week that the lead actor will be Alessandro Nivola (Jurassic Park III, American Hustle). Nivola has been cast as Richard “Dickey” Moltisanti, who in the 1960s Newark setting was a “big brother” figure to the young Tony Soprano (and the future father of Christopher Moltisanti). The Many Saints of Newark will be directed by Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World, Terminator: Genisys), working from a screenplay cowritten by The Sopranos creator and showrunner David Chase. There is not yet a firm premise for The Many Saints of Newark, except that, in addition to being a Sopranos prequel, it’s also set during the Newark riots of 1967.
Warner Bros. just made all future headlines about their Birds of Prey adaptation a lot more difficult to thumbnail with the official announcement of what its title is going to be. It brings to mind the full titles of both 2014’s Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and 1964’s Doctor Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The lengthy title was announced by Warner Bros. via a lipstick-smeared screenplay bearing the title Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). So, the film may include Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the Huntress and Jurnee-Smollett-Bell, but Warner Bros. made sure it was Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was front and center. Warner Bros. has scheduled Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) for release on February 7, 2020 (against Peter Rabbit 2, and one week before James Bond 25).
This year had two big news stories that shook up Chris Pratt’s schedule for the next year or so. Both Guardians of the Galaxy 3 (following the firing of director James Gunn by Disney) and the potential franchise-starter Cowboy Ninja Viking both were delayed indefinitely. Chris Pratt still has two active franchises with upcoming movies in both The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2/8/2019) and Jurassic World 3 (6/11/2021), but there is now a big gap of nearly two years where Pratt would’ve previously had two big movies coming out. One of the studios hoping to take advantage of Pratt’s availability is Paramount Pictures, which has now begun early talks for him to star in their reboot of The Saint. Although the title character of Simon Templar dates back to a series of popular books first published in 1928, appeared on TV from 1962-1969 in a series starring Roger Moore (before he became James Bond), and showed up on the big screen in a 1997 movie starring Val Kilmer, he’s relatively unknown to most people in 2018. Simon Templar, AKA The Saint, is an early example of a “gentleman thief” character who uses his stolen loot sort of like a modern Robin Hood (i.e. to help others, and to fight crime).
One could argue that an otherwise Rotten movie not happening is itself “Fresh” news, so keep that in mind with this story about what would have been the next in the franchise after 2010’s Sex and the City 2 (Rotten at 15%). During a group interview for an “oral history” of HBO’s Sex and the City, the show’s cast (excluding Kim Cattrall) was asked what Sex and the City 3 might have been about. You can follow this link for more details, but the biggest takeaway is that Mr. Big would have died of a heart attack in the shower early in the film (just after getting married to Carrie), “making the remainder of the movie more about how Carrie recovers from Big’s death than about the relationship between the four women.”
The classic Broadway hit musical Cats has a large ensemble cast of over 20 significant named characters, so it’s not surprising that next year’s movie adaptation has had multiple casting stories. Going into this week, some of the characters we had already heard about included James Corden (Bustopher Jones), Dame Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy), Idris Elba (Macavity), Jennifer Hudson (Grizabella), Sir Ian McKellen (Gus the Theatre Cat), and Taylor Swift (her role is yet unconfirmed). This week, we also heard about who will be donning the makeup and furry costumes of Rum Tum Tugger and Jennyanydots. Let’s start with singer and pop star Jason Derulo, who will be playing the former. Australian comic actress Rebel Wilson has also been cast in Cats as Jennyanydots, which is a little strange because the character is an “old Gumbie cat,” and Wilson herself is only 38. Universal Pictures has scheduled Cats for release on December 20, 2019, up against Star Wars Episode IX. Of Rebel Wilson’s 15 movies with Tomatometer scores, the only ones that aren’t Rotten are Bridesmaids and the first two Pitch Perfect movies.