This week’s early Ketchup (due to Comic-Con) 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 up-and-coming titles like Barbie, James Bond 25, The Little Mermaid, and Space Invaders.
Before this week, Marvel Studios had established that the MCU solo movies max out as trilogies, as Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor all had been featured in just three solo movies apiece. Avengers: Endgame marked an end for Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr.’s runs, but there hasn’t been any suggestion that Chris Hemsworth was done quite yet as Thor, which seemed to be confirmed this week with the news that the God of Thunder will be first MCU character to receive a 4th solo film. Taika Waititi, who directed the space opera adventure Thor: Ragnarok (Certified Fresh at 93%) has been hired to write and direct Thor 4. Waititi had been expected to direct the long-delayed live action Akira (for release on May 21, 2021) next, but Warner Bros. has put Akira on hold “indefinitely” again. Taika Waititi’s next film will be this year’s Jojo Rabbit (10/18/2019), in which he plays a young boy’s imaginary friend, Adolph Hitler (yes, really).
The upcoming Bond 25 is expected to be Daniel Craig’s final film as the sixth actor to portray Eon’s 007, and over the 50+ years of the James Bond franchise, we’ve gotten extremely used to equating his name with the famous call sign. This week, though, the world learned that may not necessarily be the case. British actress Lashana Lynch, who co-starred earlier this year in Captain Marvel, has reportedly joined Bond 25 as both the first female the first person of color to adopt the 007 codename. According to an unnamed source, “There is a pivotal scene at the start of the film where M says, “Come in 007”, and in walks Lashana who is black, beautiful and a woman,” following James Bond’s retirement in Jamaica. Bond 25 will feature several returning cast members, including Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright, and as the villain Blofeld, Christoph Waltz, but the news of Lynch’s potential role in the story caught fire across the internet. Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek will also be joining the franchise as a new villain when Bond 25 is released next year on April 8, 2020.
The toy company Mattel has been attempting to get a live action Barbie movie going for a few years now, including an effort at Sony that almost featured first Amy Schumer, and then Anne Hathaway. The Barbie movie eventually moved to Warner Bros. late last year, at which point their “Harley Quinn” actress Margot Robbie also started talks to star in the film. At first, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins had also been in talks to helm Barbie, but this week, Warner Bros. instead hired Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, Certified Fresh at 99%), who will also adapt the screenplay with Lady Bird co-writer Noah Baumbach. The premise isn’t known yet, but it’s expected that it will no longer be anything like the story it would have been with Schumer or Hathaway. Warner Bros. had previously scheduled Barbie for May 8, 2020, but this news may mean it will be delayed.
We’re now less than two weeks from the release of Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film as director, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is his tribute to the Los Angeles of the 1960s. Tarantino is not the only director revisiting the Hollywood of the past, though, as La La Land director Damien Chazelle is preparing for his next film, Babylon, which will be set in the silent era of the 1920s. Emma Stone is now in talks to reunite with Chazelle on Babylon, which might start filming before her starring role in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians prequel Cruella (12/23/2020). In a move that would really tie Babylon to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Brad Pitt is also reportedly “circling” the film. Babylon will reportedly be an R-rated movie in the three hour range with a budget of between $80 million and $100 million, with Lionsgate and Paramount among the studios vying to distribute.
In just a few weeks, we’ve gone from not knowing when Walt Disney Pictures might ever remake The Little Mermaid to having almost every major role cast (pretty much everyone but King Triton and Sebastian the singing crab). All in the same week, actually, Disney started negotiating with Melissa McCarthy (as the octopus sea witch Ursula), Awkwafina (as Scuttle the seagull), Room star Jacob Tremblay (as Flounder the fish), and Halle Bailey as the title character of Ariel. We can also now report that Disney is in early talks with One Direction pop singer Harry Styles to star as the film’s romantic male lead, Prince Eric. The live action remake of The Little Mermaid will be directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Mary Poppins Returns).
Following the staggering success of Bohemian Rhapsody and the “pretty good” numbers for Elton John’s Rocketman, the musical biopic has come back in a big way. There are several similar projects now in the works, including biopics for Boy George and Aretha Franklin (with Jennifer Hudson attached), and a Mamma Mia! style jukebox musical featuring the music of Prince. Right up there with The Beatles, one of the biggest stars never to receive a big budget Hollywood biopic is the “King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley, but that’s exactly what Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann is getting ready to work on next. In the same week as the Little Mermaid casting news earlier this month, we also learned about the various contenders to play Elvis (including Ansel Elgort, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Miles Teller, and One Direction’s Harry Styles, who will apparently co-star in The Little Mermaid instead.) Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis will be Austin Butler of MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles, with Tom Hanks already attached to co-star as Colonel Tom Parker.
Until this week, Space Jam 2 was to have marked the big budget studio debut of director Terence Nance, whose first film was the 2013 independent drama An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. Citing “differing visions,” Warner Bros. and producer and star LeBron James have now hired director Malcolm D. Lee to direct Space Jam 2. Although his most recent film, Night School, received a Rotten Tomatometer score at 27%, Lee’s two prior films both received Certified Fresh scores: Barbershop: The Next Cut at 90% and Girls Trip at 91%. We don’t yet know which NBA stars will be joining LeBron yet, but Don Cheadle signed on last week. Warner Bros. has scheduled Space Jam 2 for July 16, 2021, which is the week after Indiana Jones 5, and the week before Mission: Impossible 7.
There was once a time when people often didn’t know that a movie even existed, much less what the film was about, before the first trailer came out. These days, however, mainstream cinema is dominated by sequels, remakes, and adaptations of comics and video games, the news of which break months or years ahead of time (for example: this column). In that climate, then, it’s rather refreshing when we have a movie like The Hunt (9/27/2019), which was just described as a “political thriller” until the teaser trailer was released this week. As it turns out, the title was quite literal, as the movie now appears to be nearly a remake of the classic story and film, The Most Dangerous Game, as twelve strangers find themselves being hunted by the uber-wealthy on a private estate.
This year’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu made Tomatometer history with the first Fresh rating (at 67%) ever for a mainstream video game movie. While it’s great that this long-standing Rotten record was broken, it’s only a mere step in the right direction for the genre; “video game movies” still trend towards Rotten, even though we continue to hope that will change someday. One of the oldest video game franchises is Space Invaders, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year in 2018, Warner Bros. has been developing a Space Invaders movie for several years now. This week, the Space Invaders movie moved forward with the hiring of screenwriter Greg Russo, who is also working on another video game movie, the Mortal Kombat reboot (3/5/2021). Good luck, Greg!
Ostensibly, one of the reasons a movie might cast several young up-and-comers is that if there are ever sequels, the franchise might benefit from getting in early on the careers of promising young stars. For example, just two years after the 2017 Power Rangers reboot, its cast seems to be in a pretty great place, as the Pink Ranger was played by Naomi Scott (Jasmine from Aladdin), and the Red Ranger was played by Dacre Montgomery (Billy from Stranger Things). (And that’s without mentioning Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa, or Barry star Bill Hader as the voice of Alpha 5.) So, it was a crazy headscratcher this week when Dacre Montgomery revealed that Power Rangers is being rebooted once again, with another completely new cast. Although it is true that the 2017 reboot received a Rotten score at 50%, that was actually a step up from the older films, like the first movie in 1995, which was Rotten at 37%.