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 titles like The Batman, Fantastic Beasts 3, Jurassic World 3, and Scream 5. [Note: This article has been updated to correct an erroneous role attribution and the implication that Wes Craven is still alive.]
During the period when Jonah Hill was reportedly in talks for a villain role in The Batman (6/25/2021), various reports suggested the role was either that of the Riddler or the Penguin. Within hours of the announcement that Hill was no longer being considered, Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man, Love & Mercy) was reported as being in talks to play the Riddler, but the casting of the Penguin remained a mystery for almost a month. In 2003, Colin Farrell costarred in Marvel’s Daredevil as the villain Bullseye opposite Ben Affleck, whose departure from The Batman eventually led to the role going to Robert Pattinson instead. Everything came full circle this week as Farrell is now in talks to play the Penguin as the film’s third cast villain (alongside Dano and Zoe Kravitz, who will be playing Catwoman). Andy Serkis, who appeared in a couple MCU movies as the vibranium-themed villain Klaw, is also in talks to play Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth. Although three villains might seem like plenty for just one movie, Kevin Smith claimed last month that The Batman will be adapted from the 1996-1997 storyline Batman: The Long Halloween, which also featured Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, the Scarecrow, and Two-Face, so there may still be more villains yet to be cast.
Director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario, Blade Runner 2049) is currently working on his adaptation of Dune, the popular science fiction novel by Frank Hebert that was first brought to the big screen by David Lynch in 1984. That movie doesn’t come out for another thirteen months (12/18/2020), but Warner Bros. must really like what they’ve seen of it so far, as the news came out this week that a screenwriter has already been hired to work on the second Dune movie. That job is going to screenwriter Jon Spaihts, the sole screenwriter credited for 2016’s Passengers, who also co-wrote the Alien prequel Prometheus, Marvel’s Doctor Strange, and Villeneuve’s first Dune movie. Spaihts had been working for HBO Max as the showrunner of a Dune: The Sisterhood series, but he’s stepping down from that responsibility to focus on the second Dune instead. There have been reports in the past that the first new Dune movie will only adapt about half of the eponymous novel, so it may be more accurate to describe the second Dune movie not so much as a “sequel” as a continuation of the same adaptation (sort of like IT and IT: Chapter Two). Denis Villeneuve’s all-star Dune cast includes Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson (as Lady Jessica), and Timothée Chalamet (as Paul Atreides).
Just months after producing and co-starring (as himself) in the professional wrestling true story Fighting with My Family (Certified Fresh at 92%), Dwayne Johnson has attached himself to at least produce two other sports movies based on true stories. The first was announced late last Friday, as Johnson will produce and star in an untitled film about UFC champion Mark Kerr in what is being described as Johnson’s “first true dramatic role.” The announcement was made at a UFC event at Madison Square Garden. Mark Kerr is a two-time UFC champion who was also the subject of a 2003 HBO documentary called The Smashing Machine. The other film Johnson is now producing is Unstoppable (not to be confused with the Denzel Washington/Chris Pine movie about a runaway train), a drama about undefeated three-time All-American college wrestler Anthony Robles, who was born with only one leg.
There were enough movie news stories this week to fill two editions of The Weekly Ketchup, mostly because Wednesday marked the beginning of this year’s American Film Market, which is where many non-studio movie projects try to find funding and distribution. Two of the higher profile movies this week now have different lead actors after previously being Seth Rogen vehicles. The first is Newsflash, which will depict the events of November 22, 1963 from the perspective of CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite as he broke the news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination to a shocked nation. (The news of Chris Pine replacing Seth Rogen on Newsflash actually first broke in August.) Newsflash will be directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, whose The Current War: Director’s Cut (Fresh at 60%) was just released, two years after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September of 2017. Seth Rogen was also replaced this week by Zac Efron in another fact-based drama called King of the Jungle, as a reporter who travels to Belize to interview the controversial anti-virus software innovator John McAfee (a role that also needs to be replaced following the departure of Michael Keaton). Seth Rogen’s next film will be An American Pickle, about a factory worker who wakes up in 2019 Brooklyn 100 years after being pickled at a pickle factory.
Although the original Jurassic Park is Certified Fresh at 91%, three of the four sequels have been Rotten, including the most recent film, last year’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (48%). Universal Pictures is preparing Jurassic World 3 (A.K.A. Jurassic Park 6, basically) for release on June 11, 2021, with the biggest casting news to date being the impending returns of three of the first movie’s stars (Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Sam Neill). We now know that two of Fallen Kingdom‘s stars, namely Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda, will also be returning to co-star alongside Jurasic World‘s Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.
In the last 10 years, there have been three different attempts to reboot the Terminator franchise, starting with Terminator: Salvation (Rotten at 33%) in 2009, continuing with Terminator Genisys (Rotten at 27%) in 2015, and this past week’s Terminator: Dark Fate (Fresh at 71%). That last Tomatometer is possibly sadly ironic, because the return of James Cameron as producer may have helped raised the Tomatometer score, but the film’s box office did not see a corresponding upswing. Instead, the $29 million opening weekend for Terminator: Dark Fate is being reported as a bomb that will likely mean a loss for Paramount Pictures of upwards of $120 million. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “sources close to Skydance say there are certainly no plans for another film at this point,” and some of the pundits interviewed suggested that a TV series (possibly animated) may be the next step for the Terminator franchise.
Another franchise that has struggled for Fresh Tomatometer scores following a promising start is Scream, which started with a Certified Fresh 79% and 82% for the first two movies, followed by a Rotten 39% for Scream 3, and a barely Fresh 60% for Scream 4 in 2011. More recently, Scream found new life as a TV show for three seasons, two of which also received Rotten Tomatometer scores from critics. The Scream franchise was always one of the crown jewels of producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, and like many of their properties, the rights to Scream have new owners following the Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy. The new owners are Spyglass Media Group, and Spyglass is now developing a fifth Scream movie, but it’s not yet clear whether that film will be a reboot or just another direct sequel. Screenwriter Kevin Williamson, who penned the original Scream, Scream 2, and Scream 4, is not expected to be involved with the new movie.
It’s easy to forget this little bit of trivia now, as Marvel Studios is so thoroughly associated with Walt Disney Pictures, but early movies like Iron Man were actually produced for Paramount Pictures. Losing the Marvel movies was arguably one of the biggest setbacks in recent years for Paramount, prompting the studio to look elsewhere for potential franchises, including next year’s G.I. Joe spinoff Snake Eyes (10/16/2020), as well as Sonic the Hedgehog (2/14/2020) and Rugrats (1/29/2021). This week, Paramount announced release dates in 2021 for two more sequels, though both follow on the heels of Rotten movies. First, Paramount has scheduled Paranormal Activity 7 for March 19, 2021, which will be coming after three other Rotten Paranormal Activity films (24% in 2012, 39% in 2014, and 14% in 2015). The Tomatometer for My Little Pony: The Movie (Rotten at 48%) was better, but still not Fresh, and Paramount is still scheduling a My Little Pony sequel for September 24, 2021 as well.
Soon after the disappointing box office and Tomatometer scores of last year’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Rotten at 37%), there were reports that Warner Bros. was slowing down their plans for a third Fantastic Beasts movie, which had previously been scheduled for release in November of 2020. Just shy of a year after Crimes of Grindlewald, WB confirmed this week that they are indeed moving forward with plans for a third Fanastic Beasts movie, which will start filming in early 2020 and be released on November 12, 2021, about a year after its initial release date. The focus is expected to be on Jessica Williams’ “Lally” character, with the action shifting to Brazil, following settings in New York and Paris in the first two movies. Jude Law and Johnny Depp are both expected to reprise their roles as Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald, but it’s possible that at least Depp’s role may be scaled back from what was originally planned.
When John Cazale (Fredo from The Godfather) died prematurely at the age of 42 in 1978, it meant that he died with the sad distinction of only appearing in five feature films, all of which were nominated for Best Picture Academy Awards (and three of them actually won). Another acclaimed actor who died with just a few films to his credit was James Dean, the star of East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant, all three of which came out in 1955 or 1956 (James Dean died on September 30, 1955). Ever since CGI and motion capture technology emerged, the issue of dead movie stars or celebrities being used (mostly to date in commercials) has been controversial, but it wasn’t until this week that a star of James Dean’s stature became attached to “star” in a new movie decades after their death. The movie in question is an independent Vietnam War-era drama called Finding Jack, about the plight of military dogs following the end of the war. The filmmakers plan on using old film footage and photographs of James Dean to create a photorealistic depiction of the actor following the acquisition of his rights from his surviving family members. The news attracted immediate reactions from stars like Chris Evans (who probably doesn’t want someone casting him in a movie 100 years from now), but the film’s director says the backlash came as a surprise to him.