This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering new titles such as Beyblade, Kraven the Hunter, and new roles for Tom Brady, Robert Downey Jr., and Bill Murray.
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Perhaps more than any other professional sport, there is a long tradition of professional football players making the transition to becoming movie and TV stars. This legacy includes Jim Brown (The Dirty Dozen), Terry Crews (TV’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Alex Karras (Blazing Saddles), Bubba Smith (Police Academy), Carl Weathers (Rocky), and most notoriously, O.J. Simpson (The Naked Gun). Just a few weeks after officially retiring from the NFL after seven Super Bowl wins, former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccanneers quarterback Tom Brady is the latest football star to make the jump. Brady is producing and will co-star in a road trip comedy for Paramount Pictures called 80 for Brady. Inspired by a true story, 80 for Brady will center on a quartet of older actresses as a group of best friends who take a road trip to Houston in 2017 to see their favorite player, Tom Brady (of course), play in Super Bowl LI. The four stars will be Sally Field (who coincidentally starred with former college football star Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit), Rita Moreno, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin (the latter two of whom are also the stars of both 9 to 5, and Netflix’s Grace and Frankie).
(Photo by Nicola Dove/©20 Century Fox Film Corporation)
Director Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer (7/21/2023), his first film for Universal Pictures after shifting away from his long tenure at Warner Bros., has always been billed as an ensemble, as well as a biopic about the life of early atomic bomb co-inventor J. Robert Oppenheimer. Before this week, the cast of Oppenheimer included Cillian Murphy as the title character, Emily Blunt as his wife, and Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, Dane DeHaan, Josh Hartnett, Matthew Modine, Jack Quaid, and Benny Safdie. We can now add three more, starting with Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story) and David Krumholtz (Saving Private Ryan), followed a few hours later by Death on the Nile actor and director Kenneth Branagh. The Kenneth Branagh news also came along with the first official image of Cillian Murphy in character as J. Robert Oppenheimer in a black-and-white still that appears to be a direct homage to the cover of the book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Filming of Oppenheimer begins this month on location in New Mexico, the same state as where the first nuclear bomb was tested as part of The Manhattan Project.
(Photo by Marvel Comics)
As of Spider-Man: No Way Home (Certified Fresh at 93%), there have been eight live-action Spider-Man solo films, featuring a rogue’s gallery of over a dozen of Spider-Man’s classic comic book villains. Despite how many of them have been on screen to date, something that has long been curious is that Spider-Man’s very first super villain, the Chameleon (first appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #1 in 1963) has never made the jump to the big screen. That’s finally about to change, but it’s not actually going to happen in a Spider-Man movie, as Fred Hechinger (The White Lotus) has been cast as the Chameleon in Sony’s Kraven the Hunter, starring Aaron Taylor Johnson as the title character. When Russell Crowe was recently cast, the announcement mentioned that the cast of characters would include members of Kraven’s family, and Kraven the Hunter and the Chameleon are half-brothers in the comics, so the inclusion makes sense. J.C. Chandor (Triple Frontier) is directing Kraven the Hunter, which Sony has already scheduled for release on January 13, 2023.
(Photo by Everett Collection)
An early high point of Robert Downey Jr.’s acting career was the 1993 biopic Chaplin (Fresh at 60%), which received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor for Downey. Although there have been dozens (perhaps hundreds?) of biopics about movie stars, the silent era remains relatively untapped, and many films about silent movie actors are actually fictionalized. As such, of the three biggest silent era comedy stars (Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd), only Chaplin to date has received a high-profile Hollywood biopic feature film. That may soon change in a very big way, as director James Mangold (Logan, Ford v Ferrari) is now developing as both producer and director a biopic about Buster Keaton (Steamboat Bill Jr, The General). The biopic, which is being produced for 20th Century Studios, will be an adaptation of the book Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase by author Marion Meade, and an adaptation had reportedly already been a top priority at the studio before Mangold signed on. There is not yet any indication of who might be cast as Buster Keaton, a screen actor known for his innovative and daringly athletic and acrobatic stunt work. In addition to Ford v Ferrari, James Mangold’s most notable prior biopic was the Academy Award winning Johnny Cash project Walk the Line (Certified Fresh at 82%). This news comes as Mangold’s next film, Indiana Jones 5 enters the lengthy post-production phase over a year before its release next summer on June 30, 2023.
(Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Some weeks, one star will be everywhere in the news cycle, and this week, that star was Robert Downey Jr. We’ve already discussed his presence in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, and James Mangold’s Buster Keaton biopic called to mind Downey’s role in Chaplin. But it’s this third story that is actually specifically all about him. Robert Downey Jr. is reuniting with his Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Certified Fresh at 86%) screenwriter and director Shane Black on a new project for Amazon Studios. The title of the movie isn’t yet known, but it’s believed to be an adaptation of one of the 24 novels by Donald E. Westlake that featured his popular thief character, Parker. Parker (no first name) has appeared in several films, including Point Blank (Fresh at 92%), The Outfit (under a different character name), Mel Gibson’s Payback (Rotten at 55%), and the 2013 Jason Statham film simply called Parker (Rotten at 40%). Whichever book this movie is adapting, Downey is expected to be playing Parker himself.
(Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
Channing Tatum’s latest film, Dog (Certified Fresh at 76%) opened in theaters just last weekend, and his name came up again in the news this week. Tatum is attached to star in MGM’s English-language remake of the 2019 German drama System Crasher (Fresh at 95%). The original film focused on a troubled nine-year-old girl who has been labeled a “system crasher” by social workers for her inability to stay peacefully in any foster home. That role in the remake doesn’t appear to be cast yet, but Tatum is likely to be playing an anger management coach who helps her.
(Photo by Fox Searchlight courtesy Everett Collection)
Aziz Ansari’s Netflix comedy series Master of None came to its apparent conclusion in 2021 after its third season, and now we know what he is planning on doing next. Ansari will make his feature film directorial debut with an untitled “dramedy” for Searchlight Pictures in which he will also star alongside Bill Murray. Ansari also adapted the screenplay from the non-fiction book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by surgeon Atul Gawande. The #1 New York Times bestselling book delves into the challenges physicians face to both improve the quality of life and “the process of its ending.” The characters to be played by Ansari and Murray aren’t confirmed, but this writer’s guess is that perhaps the former is a stand-in for Dr. Gawande and the latter might be playing one of his patients, though the dynamic could just as plausibly be the opposite. Searchlight Pictures expects to release this film sometime in 2023.
(Photo by Buena Vista Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
A very common assertion in recent years is that “Marvel movies” are some sort of unstoppable force and a prevailing influence on all things pop culture. There are, however, signs of what might be coming in the future, especially if you’ve been paying attention to actual comic book sales in the USA lately. Put plainly, Japanese manga has long been popular in the USA, but its share of sales is exploding, and in 2021, it accounted for 76.7% of all comics sold in the USA. Presuming the kids of today are going to grow up into adults who also want to see their favorite manga characters in their own movies, one could argue that right now is the time for a savvy producer to snap up the rights to some of the most popular franchises. Enter Jerry Bruckheimer, whose lengthy resume of hits includes Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, Bad Boys, Armageddon, and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Bruckheimer is jumping on the manga (and related toy) bandwagon with Beyblade. Initially started as a Japanese line of “spinning toys,” Beyblade eventually inspired multiple manga series, some of which also were adapted into anime series. The deal Bruckheimer has struck with Paramount for Beyblade appears to have ambitions of a multi-film franchise. The article focuses mostly on the original toys, but given the amount of pre-existing narrative material, it may be likely that some of those stories could eventually be adapted.