This week’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news (the stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next), covering stories for titles like Fast & Furious 10, Hamilton, Knives Out, and Mission: Impossible 7.
When it was announced a few weeks ago that Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson had dropped out of directing the sequel, many different sites published lists of possible directors (we even ran a poll here on RT). In a surprise announcement, Marvel Studios is going with a director who wasn’t widely considered to be a frontrunner, despite being one of the thematically best fits imaginable. That’s because it is now Sam Raimi, the director of the first three Spider-Man movies (the ones starring Tobey Maguire), who is in talks with Marvel Studios to take over directing duties on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (5/7/2021). So, why exactly is Raimi such a good choice? First off, we should note that Spider-Man is one of two major characters co-created in the early 1960s by the team of Steve Ditko and Stan Lee; the other one is Doctor Strange. Secondly, Sam Raimi first made his mark in the 1980s with the Evil Dead movies, which share a few supernatural themes with Doctor Strange, including evil magic books, possessed inanimate objects, time travel, and teleportation. In related news, rumors continue to abound that Marvel Studios is currently looking to cast the interdimensional sorcereress Clea, Doctor Strange’s long-time romantic interest.
Every once in a while, there will be a big movie news story that is quickly misinterpreted online, partly because people tend run with headlines on social media without actually reading the full story. This week, the big story that falls in that category is “the Hamilton movie that Disney is making for release in 2021,” which is only half accurate, as the rest is a twisting of what Disney is actually doing. This week, Walt Disney Pictures did indeed announce a release date of October 15, 2021 for Hamilton, except that what it actually is will be a filmed presentation of the original stage musical featuring the original cast (including Lin-Manuel Miranda), filmed at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in Manhattan. The filming was actually done in 2016, before any of the original cast had departed, so that means the “movie” will come out five years after it was filmed. Disney reportedly paid $75 million for the film rights to Hamilton, but reportedly, that could also include a true big-screen version of Hamilton (i.e., something more like Les Miserables, West Side Story, and In the Heights) that could be produced at a later date.
It may have happened before, but when Warner Bros decided to split Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two parts, they arguably established a precedent for other franchises to get an extra movie out of their profitable franchises’ final entries (like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, etc). This week, while talking up the big trailer debut for Fast & Furious 9, Vin Diesel revealed that Universal Pictures may split Fast & Furious 10 (Fast & Furious X seems a more likely title since the franchise was originally almost titled Racer X back in 2001) into two parts. This is far from a confirmation at this point, but since Universal presumably wants to keep making these lucrative films for as long (and as often) as possible, Fast & Furious getting an eleventh movie instead of just 10 seems pretty likely. Fast & Furious 9 comes out this summer (5/22/2020), and Fast & Furious 10 (or X) is scheduled for release next spring on April 2, 2021.
Just a few weeks ago, writer-director Rian Johnson told the Hollywood Reporter that he was eager to get a sequel to his now Oscar-nominated (for Best Original Screenplay) whodunit Knives Out going and that he was already developing a new case for Benoit Blanc, the eccentric detective played by Daniel Craig, to crack. At the time, though, there wasn’t any official confirmation that such a project was on the books for Lionsgate, even if it was something of a foregone conclusion. That all changed this week, when the studio officially announced in a conference call on Thursday that it was planning to start production on a Knives Out sequel, just as the first film is on the verge of breaking $300 million at the global box office. We don’t yet know when the film is scheduled for release, nor do we have confirmation that any of the cast will be returning — especially considering the new film will likely take audiences through a new mystery — though it’s a safe bet Daniel Craig will reprise his central role.
Two separate recent trends in movie musicals came together this week in one news story that combines elements of both. On one hand, we have seen some very decent box office numbers in the last couple of years for musical biopics like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, and on the other, Lin-Manuel Miranda has both In the Heights (6/26/2020) and the filmed version of Hamilton, which will be released by Walt Disney Pictures, coming soon (10/15/2021). After “months of discussion,” Walt Disney Pictures has finalized a deal with pop star Bruno Mars for a “music-themed theatrical narrative feature that Mars will star in and produce.” The premise is being kept secret for now, but we do know that the music will mostly be new original songs that Bruno Mars will write, create, and perform. An easy guess would be that it might be a musical inspired by his own life story, but that’s not confirmed.
Last summer (6/15/2019), rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube celebrated his 50th birthday, and unlike some other Gen X actors, he seems to be leaning comfortably into the transition from being a “young star” (the Friday franchise, for example) to taking roles that are more age-appropriate (like say, his roles in Lottery Ticket, which was 10 years ago, and the 21 Jump Street movies). Ice Cube has signed on with Universal Pictures to co-star in their boxing biopic Flint Strong as Jason Crutchfield, the real life coach of future Olympic boxing champion Claressa “T-Rex” Shields. The movie will basically be adapting the same story as the 2015 documentary T-Rex, except that Ryan Destiny will be portraying Claressa Shields (rather than Shields playing herself). Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison (Mudbound) will be making her feature film directorial debut with Flint Strong, working from a screenplay by Barry Jenkins (the director of Moonlight).
As frequently as Hollywood adapts classic novels into films, you might think that all of the biggest titles had already gotten the big screen treatment, but some (like, say, Catcher in the Rye) defy adaptation and remain unproduced. The argument can be made that one of the most famous “young-adult fiction” classics that fits in that category is Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret (which turns 50 this year). Without getting too far into the details, Blume’s novel depicted a young lady struggling to understand the changes her body was going through, and what exactly she was expected to do about them. Now, over 50 years after it was first published, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret is now being developed by James L. Brooks and writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen, Certified Fresh at 94%). The screenplay, which has reportedly received Judy Blume’s endorsement, has been sent to various studios, and a bidding war is expected to start soon.
The 1906 Kenneth Grahame children’s novel The Wind in the Willows was adapted by Walt Disney Pictures in 1949 as one half of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (Fresh at 93%), but the argument can be made that, unlike most other classic stories adapted by Disney in that era, that adaptation is not as fondly remembered as, say, Bambi or Pinocchio. There have been other attempts at adapting The Wind in the Willows over the years (including an animated movie featuring Monty Python stars), but so far, that one great definitive version hasn’t happened yet. We can now report that Downton Abbey showrunner and writer Julian Fellowes has signed on to adapt The Wind in the Willows for a feature film that will be shot at Peter Jackson’s production studio in New Zealand, with Jackson’s WETA Digital doing the CGI work on the animal characters like Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger. Fellowes also previously worked on a stage musical adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, which debuted on London’s West End in 2016.
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman was one of the top contenders at last year’s Academy Awards, and he’s currently in the midst of production on his next film, the post-Vietnam War drama Da 5 Bloods, which will probably be released this year in time for awards consideration. It was a bit of a surprise, therefore, that a new project emerged this week which is also being planned for a 2020 release. Spike Lee has signed on to direct a feature film adaptation of the Broadway musical David Byrne’s American Utopia. David Byrne (the former lead singer of the Talking Heads) and 11 other musicians are featured in the show, performing songs from Byrne’s 2018 album called American Utopia, as well songs from his career with the Talking Heads. This film is being compared by one of the producers to the 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, which also featured the Talking Heads and international musicians.
Every year, there is a bit of a one-two punch in the field of independent film deals, as the Sundance Film Festival in late January is very quickly followed by the European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival in early February. So, even as we’re still covering the deals that came out of Sundance, we’re also already hearing about big new announcements from Berlin. One of the movies that is looking to be “sold” at Berlin this year is a thriller called The Thicket, based upon a novel by Joe R. Lansdale, the mind behind Bubba Ho-Tep (Certified Fresh at 78%). Peter Dinklage has been attached to star for a while as one of his first post-Game of Thrones projects, and this week, we learned about three of his co-stars. Noomi Rapace (Prometheus), Sophia Lillis (IT), and Charlie Plummer (All the Money in the World) have all joined the cast of The Thicket. Dinklage will play a bounty hunter who is recruited by a young man (Plummer) seeking to rescue his sister (Lillis) from a violent killer named Cut Throat Bill (Rapace). The Thicket will have the same cinematographer (Galo Olivares) as last year’s Best Picture nominee Roma.