This week’s Ketchup brings you another ten headlines from the world of film development news (those stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next). Included in the mix this time around are stories about such titles as Aquaman and Venom, a new remake of The Fly, and new roles for Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy and Alicia Vikander.
Hollywood and pop culture in general has been heavily influenced by the Wachowskis’ 1999 science fiction action movie The Matrix, as evidenced by the many books that have been written about the film. There are elements within The Matrix that could potentially set up a whole franchise beyond just the two disappointing sequels that followed it, and judging by this week’s news, that might actually happen: as you may have heard or read Tuesday night (when social media sort of exploded), Warner Bros is now developing a return to The Matrix. Now, the terminology surrounding this project has been sort of confusing, with some calling it a “reboot,” but The Matrix movies themselves had their own “reboot” right within the story. So this could be a sequel, a prequel, a sidewaysquel, a remake, or all or none of them all at once. Whatever form it ultimately takes, what we do know is that the screenwriter Warner Bros has hired is Zak Penn, whose previous credits include two of the X-Men movies (X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand), as well as some work with Marvel Studios proper (The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk), and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One. Warner Bros is also reportedly interested in recruiting Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Fantastic Four) to star, but it’s unclear who he would play (some speculation has included the next “The One,” or maybe “young Morpheus”). There is no release date as of yet for this new Matrix movie, but March, 2019 will be the month of the film’s 20th anniversary.
Although some celebrities from Hollywood’s Golden Age are still alive (like Kirk Douglas and Olivia de Havilland), most of them left us so long ago that it’s mindboggling to imagine anyone in Hollywood could be working on a new movie from one of them now. Yet somehow, that’s exactly what happened this week for Citizen Kane director and star Orson Welles. And what company could possibly have the ambition and influence to get something like this done? Why, it’s wunderkind company Netflix, of course, which has announced that they will finish and distribute Welles’ great unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind. Welles worked on the mockumentary project from 1970 to 1976 with directors like John Huston and Peter Bogdanovich contributing to the film, which Wikipedia describes as “a satire of both the passing of Classic Hollywood and the avant-garde filmmakers of the New Hollywood of the 1970s.” Welles was repeatedly met with obstacles in trying to finish The Other Side of the Wind, and only 45 minutes of the film was completed. John Huston starred as a director based on Ernest Hemingway, but Huston also died in 1987, so obviously Netflix and the filmmakers it works with will have to figure out another way to finish the film. If an unfinished Orson Welles movie was Netflix’s only news, this would still be a good week for them, but the streaming giant was on a tear this week. First off, we should note that Netflix now has a new executive in charge of film production, with an eye toward taking an “aggressive” approach to their competition with the other more traditional movie studios. To demonstrate exactly how aggressive Netflix is right now, let’s tick off the other movies they made the news with this week: Tom Hardy is going to star in a Netflix movie called War Party, based on a true story about the Navy SEALs, directed by Andrew Dominik and produced by Ridley Scott. Molly Shannon, Kathryn Hahn, and Paul Giamatti will star in the Netflix comedy Private Life, about a couple struggling with fertility issues. Amy Ryan and Steve Carell have their own Netflix drama in the works called Beautiful Boy, about a teenager’s addiction to meth, and how it impacts his family. And oh, yeah, director Justin Lin (Star Trek Beyond, Fast Five) is going to make a movie called The Stand Off, about a struggle between the police and the Black Panthers. We almost could have given you an entire Weekly Ketchup using only movies to be produced and distributed by Netflix.
It’s hardly breaking news, but it’s worth noting that some of Hollywood’s (and, by extension, America’s) biggest movie stars, dating all the way back to the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Cary Grant, are actually, you know, British. Henry Cavill, who plays one of the pop culture icons that most represents “truth, justice and the American way” in movies, is among them, and his Hollywood presence expanded even more this week with the news that he will join the Mission: Impossible ensemble for the franchise’s sixth outing (alongside Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner, all expected to return). Cavill has played Superman in two movies thus far (Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), and is expected to reprise the role in Justice League (ixnay on “spoilers” for last year’s movie!). Yes, both Man of Steel (55 percent) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (27 percent) have Rotten Tomatometer scores, but this week’s other news is the potential silver lining that might turn Superman’s Tomatometer scores around someday. That’s because it was reported that Warner Bros’ top choice to direct the Man of Steel sequel is Matthew Vaughn, the British former producing associate of Guy Ritchie who made his directorial debut with Layer Cake before helming three Fresh comic book adaptations: Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service. Of course, we should note that this doesn’t mean Vaughn will direct the Man of Steel sequel, but even the idea suggests that Warner Bros might be considering a thematic shift away from the darker, Nolan-influenced movies that Zack Snyder has been directing and producing. (A fan can hope, anyway.) Matthew Vaughn also dropped an odd hint on Instagram this week, saying that he is on a mission to get “bigger than Green Lantern,” inspiring writers and fans alike to wonder if this means Green Lantern himself might appear in the Man of Steel sequel.
In season 2 and 3 of HBO’s Entourage, fictional movie star Vincent Chase signs to star in an Aquaman movie to be directed by (real life) director James Cameron. The story arc stretched across so many episodes that it became one of the most lasting ideas to survive the series, even years later. Cameron has been in the news lately for his plans for the Avatar franchise, but he’s most decidedly not directing the Aquaman movie — that honor currently belongs to James Wan (Furious 7, Insidious). Nevertheless, this week’s news continues the tenuous connection between Aquaman and James Cameron, in that Wan’s film has announced a release for the December 21, 2018 release date that was just vacated last week by Cameron’s Avatar 2. As things currently stand, Aquaman is the only WB/DC Comics movie confirmed for release in 2018, but we also heard this week that WB/DC is trying to choose a film that could join Aquaman in 2018. The five projects vying for the slot are The Flash, Gotham City Sirens (the Harley Quinn spinoff), Green Lantern Corps, Justice League Dark (AKA Dark Universe), and the Suicide Squad sequel. All five are at varying degrees of development, but what we still don’t know is which of them is close enough to actually make a 2018 release date. The biggest surprise, though, might be the inclusion of Green Lantern Corps, which had previously been mentioned as a likely 2020 release (and it might still be). Another one of the 2018 possibilities also made the news this week, as Legend of Tarzan screenwriter Adam Cozad signed on to work on the Suicide Squad sequel.
Film critics and fans both celebrate the 1980s as a great time for the horror genre. What is sometimes lost in the mix is that a few of the era’s best horror movies were actually remakes, specifically of movies from the 1950s. We’re thinking here of John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982/1951), Chuck Russell’s The Blob (1988/1958), Tobe Hooper’s Invaders from Mars (1986/1953) (regardless of its Tomatometer), and David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986/1958). Part of the reason why filmmakers wanted to remake movies from the 1950s was that they had access to new SFX and filmmaking techniques that weren’t available 30 years earlier. Likewise, the same argument is no doubt used when justifying remakes today, and it all really came full circle when Carpenter’s The Thing was revisited through a prequel in 2011, also called The Thing. Well, this week, we learned that 20th Century Fox is in talks with director J.D. Dillard (of next month’s Sleight) to direct a new remake of The Fly, about a scientist whose experiments with teleportation lead to him being genetically fused with a housefly. It’s not yet known what direction Dillard is planning to take with the concept of The Fly, but this writer hopes that it is more original than the 2011 The Thing. In addition to The Fly, Dillard is also developing a horror film (starring Kiersey Clemons of Dope) called Sweetheart for Blumhouse (Get Out, The Purge, Insidious).
Every once in a while, I come across a news item that really feels like it was lost in the shuffle. This week’s top candidate for that distinction is a supernatural monster action movie called Freakshift, and the reason it’s baffling how little attention it got is because recent “It girl” Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl, Jason Bourne) is now in talks to star in the film. This monster hunting actioner will be the next film from director Ben Wheatley, whose career to this point has included genre fare like Kill List and High-Rise, and Freakshift could be his breakout film in the US. If Vikander signs on, she will transition to Freakshift in August after wrapping another ambitious action movie, the reboot of the video game franchise Tomb Raider.
In Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Marvel superhero learned how to defy the laws of nature by transcending both time and space, and for his newest project, he’s going to defy time again as a man who doesn’t age. Cumberbatch is now attached to star in StudioCanal’s How to Stop Time, based on an upcoming novel (July, 2017) by Matt Haig, and his production company SunnyMarch is also coproducing. Cumberbatch will play “a man who may look like an ordinary 41-year-old but, owing to an extremely rare condition, has been alive for centuries…. [in] …a wildly imagined love story that spans centuries and continents.” How to Stop Time doesn’t currently have a distribution deal in the United States, but it’s a Benedict Cumberbatch sci-fi romance… somebody will pick this movie up. The production also doesn’t have a screenwriter or director attached yet, so it’s probably at least a few years away from happening, too.
Critics may not love all of his movies (like The Counselor or Exodus: Gods and Kings), but one thing you can’t deny about Ridley Scott is that for a guy pushing 80, he is staying very, very productive. Scott has Alien: Covenant coming out this fall, is also producing Blade Runner 2049 and the Murder on the Orient Express remake, and he also made a deal recently for a Netflix movie (see above). Well, the projects keep coming, and the latest is a fact-based drama called All the Money in the World, based on a “Black List” screenplay chronicling the 1973 kidnapping of J. Paul Getty III. The story will focus on the efforts of his mother to raise the ransom money, with her very, very wealthy father John Paul Getty, Sr. reportedly refusing to pay any of it. Of course, we can read all about the kidnapping on Wikipedia, but it might also be nice to see it adapted by a director like Ridley Scott. Scott’s current focus is on casting the mother role, and after reportedly meeting last week with Angelina Jolie, he’s now hoping to recruit Natalie Portman, who is especially “hot” in Hollywood following the success of Jackie.
Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow) has been married to actor John Krasinski (NBC’s The Office) since 2010, but they’ve never worked on a project together. That’s all about to change, because Blunt and Krasinksi are now attached to star opposite each other in a supernatural thriller called A Quiet Place. Krasinksi will also rewrite and direct A Quiet Place, which will be his third film as a director and his first for a major studio (Paramount Pictures). The premise of A Quiet Place isn’t currently known, including whether Blunt and Krasinksi will play a married couple onscreen. Krasinksi’s first two films as director were Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (39 percent) and The Hollars (43 percent), which is why A Quiet Place is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas (but only marginally so).
As Marvel Studios prepares for their 15th film (May’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2), and we’re just two weeks past Fox’s 14th X-Men-related film (Logan), there are still dozens of great characters that are waiting for their shots at cinematic adaptation (like say, Squirrel Girl — just sayin’!). One of Marvel’s most popular characters for the past 25-ish years has been Venom (who actually started life in the comics as the alien symbiote that Spider-Man acquired during 1984’s Secret Wars event). Topher Grace (of TV’s That 70s Show) played the character in 2007’s Spider-Man 3, but that film (and its barely Fresh Tomatometer score) is also blamed by some for ending what could have continued to be a lucrative franchise for both Sony Pictures and director Sam Raimi. Well, next year is Venom‘s 30th anniversary, so maybe we should have seen this coming: Sony Pictures has announced a release date of October 5, 2018 for Venom, claiming that date just as Warner Bros moved Aquaman from October 5th to December 21, 2018 (see above). That’ll be just over a year and a half from now, so it’s possible that Sony can produce a Venom movie by then, but with Spider-Man: Homecoming on the horizon, it’s unclear whether Venom will also be made with Marvel Studios, or if will it exist in its own non-Marvel universe (like their 2018 animated Spider-Man movie about Miles Morales). The Venom screenplay is currently being adapted by writers Scott Rosenberg (Con Air, Gone in Sixty Seconds) and Jeff Pinkner (cowriter of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the Jumanji reboot, also for Sony). Besides that, we really know very little about the project. This was a week of mostly “pretty good” news, so Venom is this week’s “Rotten Idea,” but again, only marginally so.