This week’s abbreviated Ketchup brings you seven headlines from the world of film development news (the stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next), covering titles like The Fugitive, Green Lantern Corps, Invisible Woman, and The Maxx.
As Joker continues to climb past $1 billion in international box office (it’s at $1.037 billion as of this writing), all eyes are on Warner Bros. to see how its success will influence their future film plans. One fairly imminent response is that the studio is now leaning toward an R rating for next year’s Birds of Prey (featuring Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn) (2/7/2020) and James Gunn’s soft reboot of The Suicide Squad (8/6/2021). Another speculated reaction would be that WB will greenlight more movies featuring their supervillains, and a possible launching pad for three such movies could be The Batman (6/25/2021), which will introduce Robert Pattinson in the title role. That film will feature at least three classic Batman villains, all of whom could receive their own spinoffs: Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), The Penguin (Colin Farrell), and The Riddler (Paul Dano). (There is also speculation this week that Warner Bros. could give Lex Luthor his own Joker-style origin story movie.)
This week was a shorter news cycle as Hollywood takes off for Thanksgiving, with much of the talk online spinning off a single story from Variety about Warner Bros.’ plans for its DC Comics properties. One of the most intriguing tidbits in that piece was the revelation that Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Black Panther) had a meeting with Warner Bros. about possibly taking over as Superman. For the time being, there appears to be a scheduling problem, because Jordan is tied up for the immediate future (on movies like Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse), so he is reportedly cautious about signing on for a role that would conflict with his other commitments (which arguably happened for Ben Affleck when he signed on as Batman several years ago). Meanwhile, the producers of the Shazam! spinoff character Black Adam (starring Dwayne Johnson) (12/22/2021) were quoted this week as saying it would be “fun” if Henry Cavill could co-star in Black Adam as Superman.
Last month, when Warner Bros. made their big announcements about the upcoming HBO Max streaming app, they revealed plans for two new series based on DC Comics titles: Strange Adventures, and Green Lantern. The latter show was speculated by some to be Green Lantern Corps, partly because there had previously been a Green Lantern Corps in development as a feature film. Warner Bros. may have been trying to corral such speculation this week, though, as sources there told Variety that a Green Lantern Corps movie remains a priority for the studio. One possibility is that a Green Lantern show on HBO Max could share synergy with a Green Lantern Corps movie (or vice versa), since obviously that’s exactly what Marvel Studios is doing with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and their Disney+ shows.
Nostalgia has been a factor on film development for decades now, as 1960s retreads eventually led to the same for the 1970s and 1980s, and so obviously, the 1990s will soon be getting their due in full force. In 1993, comic book creator Sam Kieth created a new title for Image Comics called The Maxx, which was a colorful fantasy superhero title about a homeless man who imagined that he lived in a bizarre world where he was a large purple warrior called The Maxx. That comic book was quickly adapted as an animated series for MTV’s Oddities in the 1990s, which is probably how most people know about it. The fantasy adventures may be coming back in a few years, as Channing Tatum’s Free Association production company is now developing a live-action adaptation of Sam Kieth’s original comics. It is not yet known if Tatum will also star as the title character.
Universal Pictures pulled the plug on their “Dark Universe” plans following the relative box office disappointment of 2017’s The Mummy (Rotten at 16%). That didn’t, however, necessarily mean that Universal was giving up on the notion of rebooting their Universal Classic Monsters, as we’re already seeing with next year’s The Invisible Man (2/28/2020), starring Elisabeth Moss (not as the title character). Other recently announced movies in this vein also include James Wan’s Frankenstein, the Dracula spinoff Renfield, and Paul Feig’s Dark Army (reportedly featuring several classic monsters). This week’s news goes into “deep cut” territory, as Universal is also reviving the 1940 film Invisible Woman (trivia: Shemp Howard of The Three Stooges co-starred in a supporting role). Elizabeth Banks (who’s just a week off the box office faceplant of Charlie’s Angels, Rotten at 54%) will direct and star in Invisible Woman, which will not be directly connected to next year’s The Invisible Man (the 1940 movie wasn’t either). Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, The Girl on the Train) is now working on the adaptation, which is being compared to “Thelma & Louise meets American Psycho.”
After the four James Bond movies starring Daniel Craig all received Fresh Tomatometer scores (ranging from 63% for Spectre to a Certified Fresh 95% for Casino Royale), it might be easy to forget how the franchise was often received before 2006. Three of the four Pierce Bronsan Bonds (all but GoldenEye) received Rotten scores, and three of Roger Moore’s films also received Rotten scores (Octopussy, A View to a Kill, and The Man with the Golden Gun). It’s for that reason that we’re a little sad — but only a little, since it wasn’t exactly a surprise — about the confirmation this week from Daniel Craig that next year’s No Time to Die (4/8/2020) will be his last Bond film. Although we hope that Craig’s successor will continue Bond’s Fresh streak, the history of the franchise also tells us that such an outcome is far from certain.
As we remarked in our coverage above of Channing Tatum revisiting The Maxx, we are entering an era when the lens of nostalgia is increasingly now focused on the 1990s. In film development news, nostalgia is most often a factor when we’re talking about remakes (or reboots, revamps, reimaginings, etc), and Hollywood is definitely far from stopping their remake frenzy anytime soon. That brings us to the #3 box office hit of 1993 after Jurassic Park and Mrs. Doubtfire, which was the Harrison Ford thriller The Fugitive (an adaptation of the 1960s TV show). In 1998, Warner Bros. attempted to replicate that film’s success with the spinoff U.S. Marshals, starring Tommy Lee Jones, but that film was a box office disappointment. We’re now just under four years from the 20th anniversary of The Fugitive (8/6/1993), which might be why the studio is starting development on a reboot project being described as a “new spin” on the premise. Warner Bros. has hired director Albert Hughes to work on their reboot of The Fugitive, but Hughes brings a bit of a mixed bag of Tomatometers to the project, with only two (Menace II Society and Alpha) of his six films as director earning Fresh ratings.