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 Curious George, Han Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ocean’s Eight, and World War Z 2.
This may not have been a great week for another gender-switching movie (see the Ghostbusters news down below), but the female-centric sequel/reboot of Ocean’s Eleven seems to be moving along quite smoothly. We’ve known for several months that Sandra Bullock (a good friend of George Clooney’s) has been attached to star as the leader of a group of female thieves (basically the “Danny Ocean” role). Three other actresses who were announced and later confirmed were Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Mindy Kaling. This week, three more names were added to the list, with just one yet to be confirmed. Anne Hathaway, singer Rihanna, and rapper-turned-actress Nora Lum (AKA “Awkwafina“) are now in negotiations with Warner Bros to be the #5, #6, and #7 actresses in the sequel Ocean’s Eight. As for #8, the actress who’s long been associated with Ocean’s Eight (but hasn’t been confirmed yet) is Elizabeth Banks, so there’s a good chance it’s either her or — if she drops out — someone else that’s “sort of similar” to her. Ocean’s Eight (which was previously called Ocean’s Ocho) will be directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit), with filming scheduled to start in October in New York City. It’s not yet known if George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, or other Ocean’s Eleven costars might reprise their roles in the film.
If you follow film development news regularly, you’re probably used to this old familiar ditty: a troubled production gets dragged through the Internet wringer for months, and then it’s released, ravaged by critics, and ignored by audiences (Fantastic Four, for example). Every once in a (long) while, however, a movie comes along that actually succeeds on both fronts. One example was the 2013 “zombie apocalypse” thriller World War Z. Paramount quickly started development on a sequel, but quite similar to the struggles of the first film, things have not gone that smoothly. Paramount had penciled in a release date of June 9, 2017 (up against Tom Cruise’s reboot of The Mummy), but recently, director J.A. Bayona (The Impossible, The Orphanage) dropped out as director. In addition to starring in the World War Z movies, Brad Pitt also produces them, and it turns out that the director he now hopes to recruit for the sequel is David Fincher. Fincher is beloved by movie fans for his work on films like Zodiac, Gone Girl, and The Social Network, but perhaps most importantly here, he’s previously worked with Brad Pitt on three movies: Seven, Fight Club, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. David Fincher is also actively looking for his next project, after years spent trying to get a remake of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea produced have basically led to nought (Bryan Singer is directing an adaptation of his own soon). If David Fincher does sign on for World War Z 2, Paramount will probably have to reschedule it for 2018, as filming is now expected to start (at the soonest) in possibly early 2017.
Disney and Lucasfilm spent much of this week during the Olympics getting people all excited about the new trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but online, there was a potentially bigger story bubbling up through the usual rumor factories. It started with the (verified) news that one of the characters that will be rebooted in Han Solo: A Star Wars Story (5/25/18) is Lando Calrissian, Han’s “old buddy” who owned the Millennium Falcon before him (as played by Billy Dee Williams in the original trilogy). It didn’t take long, however, until we heard the first name floated online as the top choice for the new Lando, who will join the new Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich from Hail, Caesar!). According to Devin Faraci of Birth.Movies.Death, the top contender is Donald Glover, formerly of the NBC sitcom Community. Glover recently made the news for his mystery role in Spider-Man: Homecoming (which might be Hobie Brown, AKA The Prowler), so his star is definitely ascending. But as this piece lists, there are certainly lots of young actors who could also be in the running for the highly sought-after role. There was also an online hint this week that the prequel will have a female lead (ala Rogue One), and that all four of the (as yet unrevealed) actresses up for the role are “non-white.” Whoever ends up playing Lando Calrissian, they will be working with codirectors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the guys who brought you The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street.
In the early 2000s, Universal Pictures started incorporating the character of Curious George into their branding and theme parks, all in anticipation of the character’s big screen debut in 2006. Even though the animated movie featured the voice of Will Ferrell as the Man in the Yellow Hat, Curious George was a definitive box office bomb, making just $69 million globally on a budget of $50 million. Universal Pictures has not, however, given up on their goal of turning Curious George into a big screen film franchise. The new Curious George will not be animated, but rather a live action adaptation of the character created by Margaret and H.A. Rey. To that end, Universal is working with Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment and director Andrew Adamson, who has come on board to direct Curious George. Adamson’s last two movies as director (Mr. Pip and Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away) were critical disappointments, but he did direct the first two movies of both the Shrek and Chronicles of Narnia franchises, all four movies of which received Fresh Tomatometer scores. There was also news this week about a Curious George documentary to be called Monkey Business.
There is very little chance that author C.S. Lewis did this on purpose, but when he wrote his Chronicles of Narnia as adventures set in a world where time progresses at a different rate than ours, he solved an inevitable movie problem. Movies about children are challenged by the reality of how quickly kids grow up; the Harry Potter films were a very rare example of a franchise whose movies were able to get made quickly enough to not be outpaced by the impending growth of its young stars. One franchise adversely impacted by the realities of aging is The Chronicles of Narnia, the first movie of which was made back in 2005, which means that the “kids” who starred in it are now adults (the youngest, Georgie Henley, is 21). Add in the fact that there are seven books in the Narnia series (and only three of them have thus far been adapted), and again, it’s a good thing C.S. Lewis came up with that wacky time concept. After its previous homes at Disney (the first two) and Fox (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), the Narnia franchise has now been picked up by Sony and its subsidiary TriStar Pictures, who is developing an adaptation of the fourth book (in publication order, though not chronologically), The Silver Chair. In that book, the focus shifts away from the Pevensie children to Eustace Scrubb, who was previously played by Will Poulter but will likely be recast, since Poulter himself is now 23 years old.
Like many actors and actresses who sign on for big roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Brie Larson will be very, very busy the next several years playing Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel, in both her solo film and other MCU movies (possibly starting with Avengers: Infinity War in 2018). With that in mind, one challenge for someone like Larson is finding the time for outside opportunities. Apparently, Brie Larson wants to direct, and she’s not wasting any of her post-Room clout before getting to work on those aforementioned Marvel movies. Larson will produce and star in her directorial debut, an independent comedy called Unicorn Store, in which she’ll play a woman who, after recently moving back in with her parents, “receives an invitation to a store that will test her ideas of what it really means to grow up.” Brie Larson comes to Unicorn Store after the movie first made the news in 2012, when it was first reported as a potential vehicle for Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson. As for the eventual Captain Marvel movie (March 8, 2019), we learned this week that Carol Danvers’ origin story is being changed for the movie to prevent obvious comparisons with Green Lantern, as in the comics, both Carol Danvers and Hal Jordan are Air Force pilots who have encounters with aliens that give them superpowers. (Captain Marvel may still get her powers from the alien race The Kree, but it might not go down like it does in the comics.)
We’ve known for a while now (long before the Rotten Tomatometer score showed up) that Warner Bros was developing a Suicide Squad spinoff for Harley Quinn and the young actress who plays her, Margot Robbie. WB is looking for other ways to keep Robbie “in house” (for example, she also recently starred in the studio’s The Legend of Tarzan), and this week, it was confirmed that the two have reached an agreement for the Australian actress to star in a biopic called Queen of the Air (based on a 2013 nonfiction book of the same title). Robbie will play Eastern European circus star Lillian Leitzel, a famous early 20th century trapeze artist for both the Ringling Brothers and the Barnum and Bailey Circuses, who became involved in a tragic romance with another circus acrobat. There is no director yet for Queen of the Air, so it’s probably a few years away from being released.
Somewhere on the way through development, the sequel to the Superman movie Man of Steel stopped being called Man of Steel 2, and instead became Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (to shift the focus to Batman and the impending Justice League franchise). The problem with that, however, is that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, regardless of what you call it, still basically was a sequel to Man of Steel. This week, we learned that Warner Bros is now developing a direct sequel to Man of Steel. We don’t know exactly when this movie will be made, so it’s difficult to say if it will be the fourth or fifth movie to feature Henry Cavill as Superman, but yes, Cavill is expected to return as Kal-El. That, however, is pretty much all we know about this week’s news, and it’s really missing the most important factor right now, which is the director (though various sites are already coming up with lots of interesting “dream team” possibilities). We’re calling this one of the week’s “Rotten Ideas” because, as you might have heard, this current generation of DC Comics movies don’t have the greatest Tomatometer scores ( like this one, this one, and oh yeah, this one).
The idea of a reboot of the comic book superhero franchise The Crow has been kicking around for several years, including periods during which the possible new star might have been Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire), Luke Evans (Dracula Untold), and even possibly Mark Wahlberg or Bradley Cooper. It’s been a while now since the last update, and the production company Relativity recently went through bankruptcy, so it was starting to seem like the idea had been set aside. Not so quick! This week, yet another actor became attached to restarting The Crow, and this time, it was someone who already has a much anticipated superhero movie on the way. Future Aquaman star Jason Momoa is now in talks to wear “goth” makeup and sport Hot Topic fashion as the moody rock musician-turned-undead superhero The Crow. In other Jason Momoa news, we also learned this week that the main villain in the solo Aquaman movie will be the one many fans expected: Black Manta. What we don’t know yet is whether he will rock that crazy head gear.
This week, we heard two different stories that both involve the same studio (Sony Pictures) and their attempts at reviving some of their older franchises. First up, there’s the recent reboot of Ghostbusters, which, as it turns out, is going to end up being a “wash” for Sony, at a loss of anywhere from $50 million to $70 million. As such, industry experts are now being quoted as saying that Sony’s previously reported plans for a live action Ghostbusters sequel featuring the same cast are now “unlikely.” That doesn’t, however, mean that Sony is giving up on future Ghostbusters movies just yet, as they are still developing an animated Ghostbusters movie. It’s unknown which characters might be featured in that animated version. The other Sony project to get bad news this week was from Jonah Hill (currently promoting War Dogs), who was quoted talking about the Men in Black/21 Jump Street crossover popularly called MiB 23. Again, the word “unlikely” came up, as Hill said, “I had the idea, but I doubt that movie will ever get made. They’re trying to make all the deals, but it’s kind of impossible with all the Men in Black stuff. The Jump Street films were so fun to make, and the whole joke of them was they were making fun of remakes and sequels and reboots, and then now it’s become a giant sequel/reboot. It’s almost become what we were making fun of, and it’s hard to maintain that joke when it’s so high stakes.”