Today’s Ketchup brings you another ten headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Aladdin, IT 2, Star Wars Episode IX, Suicide Squad 2, Thor: Ragnarok, and X-Force.
If you’ve read Stephen King’s novel IT (or have seen the 1990 IT mini-series), you may remember that the section centered on the kids — the part portrayed in this weekend’s new movie — is only half of the story. In the second half, the Losers Club reunites decades later as adults to take down Pennywise the Clown for good. Armed with a Certified Fresh Tomatometer score of 89%, IT is expected to break box office records this weekend (it’s already Fandango’s top horror pre-seller ever). With that in mind, New Line Cinema is wasting no time in getting IT 2 into theaters as soon as possible (probably in late 2019). One of the first film’s screenwriters, Gary Dauberman (Annabelle: Creation), is signed for the sequel, and IT director Andy Muschietti (Mama) is expected to return as well (though no deal is in place as of this writing). IT was reportedly always loosely planned as two parts.
We’ve known for a while that the partial reason popular Marvel mutants Cable and Domino are debuting in Deadpool 2 (6/1/18) is that 20th Century Fox plans to spin off the mutant team X-Force into their own movie. X-Force crossed an important threshold this week with the news that Fox has hired Drew Goddard to write and direct the first X-Force movie. Goddard made his directorial debut with 2012’s The Cabin in the Woods, and has also written such movies as Cloverfield, World War Z, and The Martian. Josh Brolin and Zazie Beetz will be playing Cable and Domino, respectively.
It’s always fun to imagine what movies will be like, and “what might have been.” We don’t often get much insight into the latter after the fact, but that’s exactly what happened this week for 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road. While discussing the winding, twisting road to led to Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot revealed that she almost starred in George Miller’s film as Furiosa, the role that eventually went to Charlize Theron instead. Gadot’s reason for not taking Mad Max appears to have been due to the time she’d have to spend away from her family in Israel (as the movie filmed for several months in Australia and Namibia). Gal Gadot next plays Wonder Woman in Justice League (11/17/17).
A year ago, most fans would have likely predicted that the fall season (September to November) would be won by the DC Comics adventure Justice League (11/17/17), even after considering the disappointing Tomatometer scores for 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Ever since Marvel Studios revealed the first teasers and trailers for Thor: Ragnarok (featuring The Hulk), though, the fan fervor has decidedly tipped in their direction. Movie ticketing site Fandango ran an anticipationg survey for the next three months, and Thor: Ragnarok (11/3/17) came out on top, also beating out the sequels Blade Runner 2049 and A Bad Moms Christmas, and Pixar’s Coco. The poll did not stretch past Thanksgiving, so it did not include such December movies as Pitch Perfect 3, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Although New Line Cinema is hoping Andy Muschietti (IT, Mama) will return to direct IT 2 in time for a 2019 release, other studios are also looking to recruit Muschietti for their own horror films. Paramount Pictures, at least, seems to have exactly that in mind. The studio has made a deal with the estate of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, for a prequel called Dracul, which would tell the story of the young author in 1868, and his encounter with “an ungodly evil that he traps in an ancient tower all the while scribbling the events that led him there.” Paramount hopes to attract Andy Muschietti’s interest in directing Dracul “somewhere down the line.”
Recently, news broke that Michael K. Williams (HBO’s The Wire) had dropped out of playing a “human/animal hybrid” in the Han Solo prequel (5/25/18) because scheduling conflicts prevented him from participating in director Ron Howard’s reshoots. Not to confuse coincidence with correlation, but this week, Paul Bettany joined the prequel for the aforementioned reshoots. It’s not known who Bettany will be playing or if he is replacing Michael K. Williams. He does have experience with roles requiring heavy use of motion-capture performances, however, having played the Vision in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War.
The 2013 ascendancy of Pope Francis while the previous Pope Benedict XVI was still living was a historically rare event (he was also the first Jesuit and the first from the Southern Hemisphere). As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that someone would eventually want to make a movie out of it, and that someone is Netflix. The film will be called The Pope, and it will be directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener). Jonathan Pryce (who played religious leader High Sparrow on Game of Thrones) will play Pope Francis, and Sir Anthony Hopkins will play Pope Benedict XVI.
When Disney first announced an ambitious casting call earlier this year for their live action remake of Aladdin, the focus was on diversity, as Disney aimed to cast Middle Eastern actors as both Aladdin and Jasmine. British actress Naomi Scott (Power Rangers) was eventually cast as Jasmine, and Will Smith is playing the Genie, but most of the rest of the cast are indeed of Middle Eastern descent. Many fans were shocked this week when it was announced that a new character named Prince Anders (a “suitor from Skanland”) would be introduced and played by Billy Magnussen (of TV’s Get Shorty), who is not Middle Eastern. You can see some of the social media reactions here.
Although much news is made of the various director shakeups at Warner Bros over their DC Comics adaptations, one of Marvel’s corporate cousins, Lucasfilm, has had its share of directorial hiccups recently. Some have also criticized the Star Wars company (and others) for hiring only young male directors with just one or two indie credits for their much bigger budget movies. One such example was Colin Treverrow, who landed Jurassic World on the strength of his debut film, Safety Not Guaranteed, and then landed the directing gig on Star Wars Episode IX (5/24/19). That was until this Tuesday, when Disney issued an announcement that the studio is parting ways with Trevorrow on Star Wars Episode IX. A new director hasn’t been announced yet, but Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) is reportedly at the top of Disney’s shortlist. When asked if he might direct Episode IX, Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi replied, “Lolz. I like to complete my films.”
Director and screenwriter Gavin O’Connor is perhaps best known for his Certified Fresh 2011 film Warrior, but a deeper look at his Tomatometer shows in the last 12 years, it’s his only Fresh score. So, the argument could be made that Gavin O’Connor needs to release another Fresh film in the near future, and a sequel to a film that became notorious for its 25% Rotten score might not be the best idea. That, however, is exactly what Gavin O’Connor is doing, as he is now signed to write and direct the DC Comics sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad. Despite its low Tomatometer score, Suicide Squad was a $745 million international box office hit, so Warner Bros hopes to make this sequel their second DC Comics project to start filming in 2018, after Shazam (starring Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam).