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 Bambi, Lethal Weapon 5, The Matrix 4, and more Transformers.
John Carpenter’s science fiction horror movie The Thing remains one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed (Certified Fresh at 84%, Audience Score 92%), but explaining its cinematic genealogy gets tricky. The 1982 film was actually a remake of 1951’s The Thing from Another World (Fresh at 89%), which was itself adapted from the 1938 novella “Who Goes There?” We also have to fit in the 2011 movie also called The Thing (Rotten at 35%), which was actually a prequel to the 1982 film. And then, last year, a new book called Frozen Hell: The Book That Inspired The Thing was published, adding another 45 pages to the original novella to make it a proper novel-length story. So, now that we have a longer version of the story behind The Thing, Universal Pictures and Blumhouse are teaming up to fast track a new adaptation. This new movie promises to be a direct adaptation of author John W. Campbell, Jr.’s original story, but it’s also going to be remaking the story of at least two of these previous movies. It’s also worth noting that this whole thing originally started with a Kickstarter campaign, which you can read about right here.
The world has gotten very used to seeing new remakes of classic Walt Disney animated films a couple times a year (Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King last year, and the upcoming Mulan on 3/27/2020), but it’s far from a very recent phenomenon. Back in 2016, there were already enough such movies that Saturday Night Live was able to make a spoof trailer starring Dwayne Johnson as a gun-toting, cigar-chomping, live-action Bambi. We’ve now gotten far enough from that parody that we can report, without irony, that Walt Disney Pictures is indeed developing a remake of the 1942 baby deer drama Bambi (Certified Fresh at 90%). The way these remakes are announced is changing, as the language “live action” is now dropped in favor of “photo-realistic CGI,” which acknowledges what most people realized, namely that a movie like last year’s The Lion King was not live action. Screenwriters Geneva Robertson-Dworet (co-writer of Captain Marvel and Tomb Raider) and Lindsey Beer (co-writer of the upcoming Chaos Walking) are now working on a screenplay that will update the dialogue and narrative of the original 1942 classic.
The 2018 Transformers prequel Bumblebee (Certified Fresh at 92%) earned over $468 million worldwide, which is a lot of money, but it was perceived as a disappointment, because it was part of a franchise that has had two movies that earned over $1.1 billion (movies #3 and #4). Probably inspired by those prior successes, Paramount Pictures has announced that it is developing two separate projects to “revamp” the Transformers franchise. The screenwriters working on these new projects are James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, Murder Mystery) and Joby Harold (co-writer of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword). Officially, Paramount hasn’t said what either of these two movies is about, but rumors quickly spread online this week that one of them might be Beast Wars, which is basically about Transformers that turn into animals instead of cars and planes. You can read about other directions Transformers might go next in this piece over at Collider.
Ever since Warner Bros. and the Wachowskis confirmed last summer that The Matrix 4 is officially “a go,” we’ve received a steady drip of casting news, both old (Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss) and new (Neil Patrick Harris, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). The latest addition to the cyberpunk saga to be announced is Priyanka Chopra Jonas, the now more available star of ABC’s Quantico, which ended its three-season run in 2018. Priyanka Chopra Jonas is also both a singer and a “Bollywood” star with over 60 films to her credit. Warner Bros. is currently remaining quiet on the nature of Chopra Jonas’ character (as they have been for all of the new cast members). The Matrix 4 is currently scheduled for release on May 21, 2021, up against John Wick Chapter 4, which is obviously another fourth franchise installment starring Keanu Reeves.
The way that Hollywood works leaves some projects waiting for years and years (or decades) to get produced, and many movie concepts just never happen at all. Comedian Paul Reubens’ most well-known character, Pee-Wee Herman, lay dormant for a long time, but starting in the 1990s, Reubens had a screenplay treatment in which Pee-Wee would emerge from a dark period in his life as a celebrity, mirroring what he himself went through. Hollywood, however, never bit on that premise, so instead his comeback came in 2016 with the Netflix movie, Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday (Certified Fresh at 80%). Paul Reubens now hopes to finally get that “dark” Pee-Wee Herman movie produced, having recently talked to the Safdie Brothers (Uncut Gems, Good Time) about getting it made. (Stay tuned for any news about them actually signing on.)
Every January, distributors both big and small head to the Sundance Film Festival in the hopes of snapping up one of the festival’s most talked-about movies for amounts both frugal and ambitious. It is, however, those larger amounts that generally make the most news (especially since so many of those projects end up having disappointing box office results upon release). Until this week, the record was held by 2016’s The Birth of a Nation (Certified Fresh at 73%), which was acquired by Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million. With that amount very much in mind, Neon and Hulu broke the record this year by acquiring the Andy Samberg comedy Palm Springs for a total of $17,500,00.69, which is exactly 69 cents more than the previous record. It made for a great headline, but this news comes with a big asterisk, because The Birth of a Nation was a deal for just theatrical, while this deal is for both theatrical and streaming (Hulu), so it’s not exactly apples-to-apples.
At 64 (Mel Gibson), 73 (Danny Glover), and 76 (Joe Pesci), the cast of the Lethal Weapon franchise truly are now very close to being “too old for this s–t.” On the other hand, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence just reunited earlier this month for Bad Boys for Life to pretty great box office numbers, so you can pretty much guess what the Lethal Weapon guys are doing. During a recent roundtable interview, producer Daniel Lin revealed that Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, and director Richard Donner are currently all in talks to return for a fifth film. It’s unclear if there is an actual screenplay for such a reunion, but there have been reports off and on over the 22 years since Lethal Weapon 4 (Rotten at 52%), so perhaps they’re thinking of just dusting off one of those old screenplays and adding more arthritis and Viagra jokes. Did we mention they’re old?
After starring in a couple of movies with Ice Cube (Ride Along, Ride Along 2) and more than a couple with Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence, and two Jumanji movies), Kevin Hart has found the next action star with whom he can pull off his comedy high jinx. Hart and Jason Statham will co-star in the action comedy The Man from Toronto, about an assassin who goes by the titular codename who is mixed up with a regular guy, leading to the obvious action movie duck-out-of-water shenanigans. The Man from Toronto will be directed by Patrick Hughes, who previously worked with Statham on The Expendables 3 (Rotten at 32%).
One of the most complained-about Hollywood trends is the perceived “new” obsession with reboots and remakes, but it’s worth remembering that this is far from a recent phenomenon, like at all. Classic Hollywood is full of remakes, such as 1931’s Frankenstein and 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, both of which were originally produced as silent movies decades earlier. Generally speaking, Hollywood tends to remake films that are anywhere from 20 to 40 years old. Average those numbers and you get 30 years, which means we’re primed for movies of the 1990s to be updated for contemporary audiences. The latest example this week is the 1997 giant snake movie Anaconda (Rotten at 40%), which was an early movie for Ice Cube, Owen Wilson, and Jennifer Lopez. Columbia Pictures is now working on a Anaconda reboot/remake which will be written by screenwriter Evan Daugherty, whose previous films include 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Rotten at 22%) and Snow White and the Huntsman (Rotten at 49%).
According to Netflix, since Adam Sandler first started making movies for them in 2015 with The Ridiculous 6 (Rotten at 0%), subscribers have collectively watched over two billion hours of his movies on the streaming service. Exactly how Netflix’s streaming numbers translate into their production decisions has always been somewhat nebulous, but whatever the math, Netflix agreed this week to a new contract with Sandler for another four movies. These four movies will include an animated film that Sandler will write, produce, and star in, but the title and details of that movie haven’t been revealed just yet.