Today’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news, covering titles such as Silver Surfer, and Spider-Women, and new roles for John Boyega and Ansel Elgort.
In its first weekend in domestic box office alone, Sony’s innovative animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has already earned back over half of its initial $90 million production budget. The film was always part of Sony’s ambitious plans for its Marvel properties, and this week, we leaned a lot more about possible future films. Development has reportedly begun on both a sequel and a spinoff of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, although there may also be others. The sequel is described as focusing on the romance between Miles Morales and Gwen Stacey, which will then lead into the spinoff Spider-Women, featuring Gwen, Silk, and the original Spider-Woman (in the comics), Jessica Drew. (Spider-Woman also had her own Saturday morning cartoon back in the late 1970s, which you can sample right here.) Former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney, who voiced Peter Porker A.K.A. Spider-Ham, is also teasing his ideas for a Spider-Ham movie, which he compares to Spotlight (but for kids). The post-credits sequence also teased a new character voiced by Oscar Isaac (who we won’t identify just yet to avoid second week spoilers). Another possibility is the MCU version played by Tom Holland, who is reportedly not off limits for a future animated film. Finally, there are still other hints and teases throughout the film as to where the Spider-Verse may someday go, as you can also see discussed at THR and here at RT.
Kate Winslet is currently in the midst of a 10-out-of-11 Rotten streak, but perhaps this week’s new project will help her right that ship, as she is now signed to star alongside Saoirse Ronan in the historical drama Ammonite. Winslet will play 19th century paleontologist and fossil hunter Mary Anning, who begins a romantic relationship with “a London woman of means [Ronan] to whom she must unexpectedly play nursemaid.” Mary Anning is also considered the inspiration for the tongue twister, “she sells seashells by the seashore” (though it’s arguably an anti-science slur by 21st century standards). The film takes its title from ammonite fossils, which are generally spiral shells related to modern squids and cuttlefish. Ammonite will be the second film from British director Francis Lee, whose first film God’s Own Country (Certified Fresh at 97%) was also a gay romance.
Ever since The Black List of Unproduced Screenplays survey began in 2005, the projects selected each year have regularly included several biopic (or otherwise historical) projects of note. Movies that have actually been produced after Black List success have included American Hustle, Argo, The Founder, I Tonya, The Imitation Game, The King’s Speech, and Spotlight. The 2018 Black List continues this trend, with a particular focus this year on true stories involving such online resources as Gawker (Just the Facts), The Drudge Report (Drudge), and Snapchat (in Frat Boy Genius, which was this year’s top selection). The #2 project, King Richard, is another fact-based drama, as it tells the story of Richard Williams, “the hard-nosed and uncompromising father of tennis prodigies turned superstars, Venus and Serena Williams.” Other historical adaptations towards the top of the results include The Seventh (about Colonel Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn), Rub & Tug (which Scarlett Johansson almost starred in), and Tillman (about NFL player Pat Tillman).
It was just three weeks ago that The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro revealed 15 produced screenplays that he has ready to go. This week, del Toro addressed the likelihood that he will make most of those films in an interview, sadly saying, “First of all I weigh more than 300 pounds and I’m 54 so no. I can’t. There are about 20 projects and I won’t live that long.” The good news is that GDT now has a production company based at Fox Searchlight, so he is in position to shepherd some of these projects for other directors. One new project in that vein is an English-language remake of the 2017 Argentinian horror/thriller film Terrified, to be directed by the same director, Demian Rugna. Terrified was “set in a neighborhood in Buenos Aires where a doctor specializing in the paranormal, her colleague, and an ex-police officer investigate horrifying events and attempt to stop the evil before it spreads.” Guillermo del Toro is also producing Scary Movies to Tell in the Dark, which is now scheduled for release on August 9, 2019 (up against Disney’s Artemis Fowl, also adapted from a children’s book series).
Ever since we first heard about a live-action remake of Dora the Explorer (and especially when we first saw Isabella Moner as the character), the question has been about how much live action it would feature. Although Dora the Explorer had many “human” characters, her main sidekick was Boots the Monkey, and she had a talking backpack. This week, we learned that Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro (Guardians of the Galaxy, Sicario) will be voicing Swiper the Fox. Filming of Dora the Explorer actually wrapped up two weeks ago, but Swiper will indeed be a CGI animated character, so Del Toro didn’t need to be on set. James Bobin (The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted) is directing Dora the Explorer, which Paramount has scheduled for August 2, 2019 (up against Fox and Marvel’s The New Mutants and the Fast and Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw).
The idea of a live action Silver Surfer movie has been bouncing around since at least 1994, when this student short film was produced. That was also why 20th Century Fox introduced the character in 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, but that film’s box office and critical reception most likely cooled any plans for a solo movie. With Disney preparing to assimilate various Fox projects (including Fantastic Four and X-Men) in the next few years, it appears that Silver Surfer may now have a chance at getting his own movie. That is, if writer/director Adam McKay gets any say in it, as the Vice director (and Ant-Man cowriter) revealed this week that it’s his one dream Marvel Comics project. McKay was quoted this week as saying, “I would do anything to do Silver Surfer because, visually, you could do what the Wachowskis did with Speed Racer with the Silver Surfer.” Setting aside the 40% Tomatometer score for Speed Racer, Adam McKay’s Tomatometer is the more relevant statistic here. Unfortunately for him, neither Fox nor Marvel currently has a Silver Surfer project in development.
It’s not yet known what will become of some of the characters who debuted in Star Wars: The Force Awakens after Star Wars: Episode IX, but some of the actors appear to be seeking other work. This week, John Boyega, who plays Finn, signed to star in a legal drama A Naked Singularity, based on a 2008 novel by Sergio De La Pava. Boyega will play a public defender who “begins to strain under the weight of his work and starts to question everything after he loses his first case.” The screenplay is being adapted by screenwriters David Matthews (of TV’s Narcos and HBO’s Vinyl) and Chase Palmer (cowriter of 2017’s IT).
Both of the 21 Jump Street movies starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum were relatively successful ($158 million and $212 million globally), and there has been talk about a possible third female-centric film with both Tiffany Haddish and Awkwafina reportedly in consideration to star. Those movies are obviously fictional, but this week, a true story with a halfway similar premise emerged as a new film project. Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver, The Fault in Our Stars) is now attached to star in The Great High School Imposter, a true story drama based upon the GQ article of the same name. It’s relevant to point out that Elgort is currently 24, as he will be playing a Ukrainian immigrant who pretends to be five years younger “so he could be adopted by a childless couple in a small Pennsylvania town, all to stay in the country after a short stint in a work exchange program.” Elgort also has the novel adaptation The Goldfinch (10/11/2019) and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (in which he will star as Tony) in the works.
Ben Affleck has been associated with Warner Bros. for the past several years, as it was the studio for whom he directed his Best Picture-winner Argo, played Batman in two films (including Justice League), and also starred in The Accountant and Live by Night (which he also directed, wrote, and produced). That said, he’s taking his next project to Universal Pictures. Affleck will produce and star in an adaptation of I Am Still Alive, a book by Kate Alice Marshall, a wilderness survival drama about “a 16-year-old girl who is sent to live with her long-lost, and off-the-grid, father in the Canadian wilderness.” Meanwhile, Affleck is also currently filming (as actor and producer) a Warner Bros. sports drama about high school basketball called Torrance.
Nearly a decade before Steven Spielberg started active work on a remake of West Side Story, he had been reported back in 2009 to be working on a remake of the 1950 Jimmy Stewart comedy classic Harvey, about a man with a six foot tall imaginary rabbit friend. As it often happens, Spielberg eventually moved on from the Harvey remake, but this week, we learned that just such a film is still in development, now at Netflix. Netflix has hired screenwriter J. David Stem and David N. Weiss (The Smurfs 2, Shrek 2) to adapt the 1950 film (and the play it was adapted from) in collaboration with the Mexican production company behind Netflix’s and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.