This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Gears of War, Ghostbusters 5, and a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.
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Many movie fans and critics have written online that they think the best candidates for movie remakes are films that were flawed the first time around, with the opposite being examples where beloved classics are remade, sometimes with disastrous results. Until very recently (when it was replaced in 2022 by Jeanne Dielman…), the film at the top of the Sight and Sound Greatest Films of All Time survey was Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 psychological thriller Vertigo (Certified Fresh at 92%), but as it turns out, not even Vertigo can escape the great remake machine. Paramount Pictures has acquired the rights to remake Vertigo, with Robert Downey Jr. expected to take over in the James Stewart lead role. The remake will be written by screenwriter Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders), who also made the news this week for being the new writer of one of Disney and Lucasfilms’ top secret Star Wars movies, replacing the recently exited Damon Lindelof (which is a separate Star Wars project than the one Taika Waititi is attached to write and direct).
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After an earlier career focusing on comedies like Anchorman, director Adam McKay has lateLY transitioned to more ambitious, star-studded ensemble films that feature comedic elements, like Netflix’s end-of-the-world satire Don’t Look Up (Rotten at 56%). In McKay’s next social satire, Average Height, Average Build, Robert Pattinson will star as a serial killer who “who uses political lobbyists to change laws in order to make it easier for him to kill.” Other actors already attached to co-star in Average Height, Average Build include Robert Downey Jr., Amy Adams, Danielle Deadwyler, and Forest Whitaker.
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When director Jason Reitnan gave his father’s most famous franchise a soft reboot in Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Fresh at 63%), film also introduced a new crop of young stars and a comic character played by Paul Rudd in addition to the obligatory cameos from the original stars. For the not-yet-titled sequel (12/20/2023) to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the franchise’s next director, Gil Kenan, who directed the 2015 remake of Poltergeist (Rotten at 29%), is giving us at least two new characters like Rudd’s, and they were both in Marvel’s Eternals (Rotten at 47%). This fifth film, which will shift the hunting of ghosts back to the franchise’s New York City setting, will introduce new characters played by Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, James Acaster, and Emily Alyn Lind, and the returning cast will include Finn Wolfhard, McKenna Grace, Ernie Hudson, Carrie Coon, and Paul Rudd.
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This year’s current season of Saturday Night Live started after one of the largest series of departures in the show’s 48-season history, which included several long-running stars like Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Kyle Mooney, Chris Redd, and Melissa Villasenor. Those comedians are now all out looking for new opportunities, and for Kyle Mooney, whose time on SNL was often more focused on writing and short films, that means directing a film called Y2K. As the title suggests, Y2K will be set on New Year’s Eve, 1999, as two high school losers crash a big party while the crowd counts down to the new millennium. The young cast of Y2K will include Rachel Zegler (West Side Story), Jaeden Martell (IT), Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2), Mason Gooding (Scream VI), and several others.
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Another Saturday Night Live star who is newly more available is Kate McKinnon (who appeared in movies like Ghostbusters and Bombshell). McKinnon’s post-SNL career won’t just be comedies, it appears, as she has landed the lead role in an ambitious, centuries-spanning sci-fi movie called In the Blink of an Eye. Set across three timelines (which makes it sound a bit like Cloud Atlas), In the Blink of an Eye will be directed by Academy Award winner Andrew Stanton, and the ensemble cast will include Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation) and Daveed Diggs (Hamilton).
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Following their record-breaking sweep of the acting categories at this year’s Academy Awards (thanks to The Whale and Everything Everywhere at Once), the arthouse mini-major studio A24 appears to be on something of a new streak of production (look elsewhere just in this week’s column alone). One of these new productions is a pop music drama called Mother Mary, which will reunite A24 with director David Lowery (The Green Knight). The star of Mother Mary will be Anne Hathaway, who won her Academy Award for 2012’s Les Miserables (Fresh at 69%), and who will play a fictional pop star who has a relationship with a fashion designer played by Michaela Coel. Mary Mother will feature original songs written by Charli XCX adn Jack Antonoff.
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After directing several short films, Destry Allyn Spielberg (yes, the daughter of Steven) is now preparing for her feature film directorial debut at the age of 26 (her father was 27 when he directed his first feature, The Sugarland Express). Spielberg’s first film had been expected to be a Knives Out-style mystery called Four Assassins (and a Funeral), but instead, her first film will be a pandemic thriller called Please Don’t Feed the Children. Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) will star in the film about a group of orphans in a near future after the adult population of the United States has been ravaged by a viral outbreak.
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With 37 states now having some form of legalized marijuana, many younger people may not realize it wasn’t that long ago when publicly admitting to marijuana consumption was a social faux pas. In the 1970s, however, there was a duo who broke new ground in “stoner comedy,” including starring in several such movies, and that duo was Cheech & Chong. Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong are uniting once again to produce a biopic about themselves, which will be directed by Kristian Mercado, a young filmmaker who is also developing a reboot of the MTV action franchise Aeon Flux.
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Both the career and life of filmmaker Cameron Crowe are as much intertwined with the rock music world, especially of the 1970s, when he was a young journalist for Rolling Stone magazine, as it is with the world of the movies. So it may have been inevitable that the director of Almost Famous (Certified Fresh at 89%) would eventually direct a full-on musical biopic (about someone else). As it turns out, the subject of that biopic appears to be singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, with whom Cameron Crowe has a decades-long friendship.
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It’s been a long time coming, but video game adaptations, both on streaming (The Last of Us) and in the movies, are finally starting to fare better with critics and with viewers, leading to more and more adaptations making their way through development. One such project is Netflix’s planned live-action adaptation of the hit video game series Gears of War. This one has been percolating for a while, but Netflix has finally hired screenwriter Jon Spaihts, who has a resume full of special effects-heavy action movies like Dune, Doctor Strange, and Prometheus.