Today’s Ketchup brings you ten headlines from the world of film development news, covering titles such as Annabelle 3, Cats, The Flash, Tom & Jerry, and Wrong Turn.
Last month’s The Nun (Rotten at 26%) was the fifth in New Line Cinema’s “Conjuring Universe” franchise of films, but it’s far from the last, with The Conjuring 3, Annabelle 3, and The Crooked Man (like The Nun, a spinoff of The Conjuring 2) also in development or preproduction. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have long been presumed to be returning as Ed and Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring 3 when it’s released on September 11, 2020. This week’s news, however, confirms that the Warrens (based on real people) will be joining one of the non-Conjuring films in the franchise for the first time. Wilson and Farmiga will reprise their roles in the third Annabelle movie, which is scheduled for release on July 3, 2019 (two days before Spider-Man: Far From Home). Like the first two Annabelle movies, Annabelle 3 will be a prequel to The Conjuring, but it’ll be more directly connected, as it will depict how the doll “awakens the [artifact] room’s evil which sets its sights on a new target: the Warrens’ ten year old daughter Judy. The young girl, along with her teenage babysitter cousin and the cousin’s friend, square off against the evil doll.” Judy Warren will be played by the previously announced McKenna Grace (Gifted), who is also playing the child version of the title character in next year’s Captain Marvel (3/8/2019).
It may have taken decades for Hollywood to finally get around to making a Cats movie (37 years after the musical premiered in 1981), but now that it’s finally happening, it’s had no problem finding stars. Before this week, it had already attracted the talents of TV host James Corden, Sir Ian McKellen, pop star Taylor Swift, and Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls), who will sing the signature song “Memory” as Grizabella. Universal’s kitty cat cavalcade of stars continued this week as the studio successfully attracted the talents of another Brit, Pacific Rim and The Wire star Idris Elba. Elba is expected to be playing Macavity, described as “the only real villain in the musical,” and the focus of two of the musical’s songs (“Macavity: The Mystery Cat” and “Macavity Fight”). Dame Judi Dench, who nearly played Grizabella in the original West End production in 1981, has also joined the cast as Old Deuteronomy, the leader of the Jellicle cats (Deuteronomy is normally played by a male in the stage musical). Steven Spielberg is executive producing Cats for director Tom Hooper, all of whose films are Fresh, including his 2012 adaptation of the hit musical Les Miserables. Universal Pictures has scheduled Cats for release on December 20, 2019, up against Star Wars: Episode IX.
Earlier this year, Avengers: Infinity War directors Anthony and Joe Russo “confirmed” that the much-promised character Adam Warlock would not be featured in next year’s Avengers 4. At that time, it was expected that Adam Warlock would be introduced in a future Guardians of the Galaxy film, as his (first) name was uttered at the end of last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. (It’s also important to note here that Adam Warlock is a central character in the original early 1990s Infinity War comic book storyline.) However, that was also before James Gunn was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, presumably delaying that film (it had previously been speculated for release in 2020). Is it possible that now, Adam Warlock could be a part of the Avengers 4 storyline? This week, as the Russos wrapped filming of Avengers 4, they teased out an image of a glowing blue “something” that some fans are speculating could be related to Adam Warlock, whose backstory includes an incubation in a sort of “egg.” In related news, early images appeared online this week of upcoming Avengers toys that seem to tease a new team uniform for the upcoming film when it comes out next year on May 3, 2019.
This April’s sci-fi horror/thriller A Quiet Place wasn’t just a very profitable surprise blockbuster ($338 million globally from a budget of just $17 million). The film, directed by, co-written by, and co-starring John Krasinski, was also Certified Fresh at 95% on the Tomatometer, and is now making some pundits’ early Academy Awards prediction lists. Paramount Pictures moved quickly to start development on A Quiet Place 2, starting with scheduling the sequel for May 15, 2020 (up against the animated Scooby reboot, and the week before Godzilla vs Kong). Krasinski gave an update this week, stating that after initially telling Paramount to hire someone else, he is now actively writing the sequel. It’s not yet known if Krasinski’s wife, Emily Blunt, will also be returning to star in the sequel. Blunt will next be seen in Mary Poppins Returns (12/19/2018), and is currently filming another film for Disney, their attraction adaptation Jungle Cruise. That film had been scheduled for October, 2019, but this week it was pushed back nine months to July 24, 2020 (which is after A Quiet Place 2 comes out).
There was a very brief trend in the late 1970s when Hollywood made a few movies that were direct adaptations of recent pop songs (namely Convoy, Ode to Billy Joe, and Harper Valley PTA). It’s anyone’s guess why this didn’t continue to be a popular source (you can see 15 such examples right here), but there are certainly plenty of songs that could inspire films. Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino currently has a remake of the classic 1970s horror film Suspiria coming to theaters soon, and we now know that he’s also developing a movie based on Blood on the Tracks, the 1975 album written and recorded by Bob Dylan that gave us the song “Tangled Up in Blue.” Screenwriter Richard LaGravenese (who was nominated for an Academy Award for The Fisher King) is now working on adapting the album into a screenplay, although no indication has been given yet what the storyline will be. Richard LaGravenese also adapted the Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, which went on to win 11 Emmy Awards.
Superhero movies have asserted their dominance in recent years, but another genre that has been experiencing a resurgence since the 2014 success of John Wick is the hitman/assassin action movie, which has recently included American Assassin, Proud Mary, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, and Deadpool (which, to be fair, is also a superhero movie). Michael B. Jordan (who also recently had a runaway hit with Black Panther) is now jumping on the assassin bandwagon, as he will produce and star in Lionsgate’s adaptation of The Silver Bear, based on a novel by screenwriter and TV showrunner Derek Haas. The Silver Bear is the first novel in a four-book series about an assassin named Columbus. In addition to being an author, Derek Haas is also one of the showrunners of NBC’s Chicago Fire and its spinoff shows Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med. We’re calling this one a “Rotten Idea” based on the Tomatometers for both Haas (4 Rotten scores vs 2 Fresh scores), and for Michael B. Jordan when he’s not working with Ryan Coogler.
Now that Marvel has apparently delayed production of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, Dave Bautista is moving on instead to an action movie called My Spy, the premise of which we learned more about this week. As it turns out, My Spy stars Bautista as a CIA operative who is assigned to go undercover watching a family and finds himself “at the mercy of a precocious 9-year-old girl” (played by Chloe Coleman of HBO’s Big Little Lies). Bautista and Coleman will also be joined by Ken Jeong (The Hangover, TV’s Community) and Kristen Schaal (30 Rock, The Last Man on Earth). Perhaps coincidentally, fellow WWE star-turned-actor John Cena is also now signed to star in an action movie for Paramount Players called Playing with Fire, about “a group of rugged wildfire fighters who meet their match when they rescue a trio of rambunctious children.” Dave Bautista’s career Tomatometer (not counting Marvel Studios movies) has several Rotten splats, as does John Cena’s prior to a handful of Fresh movies beginning in 2015. Frank Masi/Columbia Pictures
After a run that has included two original films (2016’s Storks and last month’s Smallfoot), the Warner Animation Group appears to be shifting focus toward rebooting classic cartoons for the 2020s. An update on this came along with the revelation this week that WAG has hired director Tim Story to direct a new animated movie starring the classic slapstick cat-and-mouse duo of Tom and Jerry. It’s expected that Tom and Jerry will be an animated/live action hybrid. The fact that Tom and Jerry don’t speak is also seen as attractive to international markets, as much of the humor is based in physical comedy. Tim Story’s films have earned 8 Rotten scores and only three Fresh scores (two of which were Kevin Hart stand-up comedy films). Some of the related projects Warner Animated Group is currently developing are Space Jam 2 (starring LeBron James), Wile E. Coyote vs ACME, a new Scooby cartoon for 2020, and movies for The Jetsons, The Flintstones, and Wacky Races. Curiously, one project missing from that list is Speedy Gonzales, which comedian Eugenio Derbez has been signed to since 2016.
This week marked the fourth anniversary of this story on October 15, 2014, announcing the casting of Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin) as Warner Bros’ The Flash. At that point, it was known that Miller would star in The Flash in 2018 (that obviously didn’t happen), as well as other movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League (both of which did happen). That four-year wait almost doubled this week as The Flash is now delayed until 2021. (The irony, of course, is that the “Fastest Man Alive” is now one of the slowest superhero movies in development.) The reason for the delay is so that Ezra Miller can co-star in Fantastic Beasts 3 (his other franchise for Warner Bros), which is expected to start filming in early 2019 (when The Flash was previously expected to film), with The Flash now pushed back to start filming in late 2019 at the earliest.
In 2003, Eliza Dushku starred in a horror thriller called Wrong Turn, which earned a Rotten score of 41% and mixed box office results with a domestic take of $15 million from a budget of $12 million. Even so, that movie went on to spawn a franchise of five direct-to-video sequels, including one movie (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End) which actually earned a Fresh score (78%). The franchise’s producers are now preparing to restart the Wrong Turn series with a new screenplay about a group of young people who find themselves stranded and at the mercy of “West Virginia cannibals.” The new Wrong Turn will reportedly be about how a “cross-country hiking expedition puts a group of friends in the land of an inclusive society, where they soon discover they are under a different rule of law, and may not be the victims they thought they were.” (What, like they made the cannibals eat them?)