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 such titles as Halloween Kills, Nightmare Alley, The Suicide Squad, and Tomb Raider 2.
Last year’s reboot of the video game adaptation Tomb Raider starring Alicia Vikander didn’t exactly blow up the box office domestically (just $58 million from a budget of $94 million). Some box office pundits argued (and some didn’t) that the surprise success of Black Panther was a factor in disappointing box office for movies (like Tomb Raider, A Wrinkle in Time, Red Sparrow, and Ready Player One) that might have performed better otherwise. Perhaps that’s why Warner Bros and MGM are indeed moving forward with Tomb Raider 2, effectively giving Vikander a second chance with the Lara Croft character. Ben Wheatley (Free Fire, High-Rise) will direct the sequel, which has been scheduled for release on March 19, 2021. It’s not yet known which specific Tomb Raider video game (if any at all) might be adapted for the film. (The first was loosely adapted from the 2013 video game reboot of the same title.). The 2018 Tomb Raider was Rotten at 52% on the Tomatometer, but hopefully Ben Wheatley can improve on that score with the sequel. As for the box office prospects for Tomb Raider 2, some writers are already speculating that its challenger in 2021 will be Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
The original 1978 slasher movie Halloween revolved around two neighboring babysitters played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Nancy Kyes watching children in houses across the street from each other. Although Brian Andrews played Tommy Doyle, the boy Curtis’ Laurie Strode was sitting, his role was replaced by Paul Rudd in 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, and will be played by Anthony Michael Hall (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club) in next year’s Halloween Kills (10/16/2020). As it turns out, Tommy won’t be the only kid returning in Halloween Kills. Despite her role in the original film, Kyle Richards is probably best known for appearing on the hit TV series The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (she’s also Paris and Nicky Hilton’s aunt), but she will return to reprise her Halloween role as Lindsey Wallace. Although no premise details have emerged yet for Halloween Kills, the casting of Hall and Richards suggests that Michael Myers might be returning to Haddonfield this time around to target the kids that he didn’t get to kill in 1978. Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer are also both reprising their roles from last year’s Halloween (Certified Fresh at 78%). Halloween Kills (10/16/2020) is also being filmed back-to-back with the third movie, Halloween Ends, which is scheduled for release a year later on October 15, 2021.
Guillermo del Toro has obviously been a highly respected genre director since at least 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth (Certified Fresh at 95%), but after The Shape of Water (Certified Fresh at 92%) won the Best Picture Academy Award last year, his clout is arguably now right up there with any other top director. Guillermo del Toro’s first film as director following that win will be a remake of the 1947 carnival thriller Nightmare Alley (Fresh at 100%), and it quickly attracted seven-time Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper and two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett as its leads (in the roles originally played by Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell). The biggest role that remained uncast until this week was Molly, who was basically the female romantic lead for Cooper’s character, but we can now report that the role has been filled by Rooney Mara. Mara is also a two-time Academy Award nominee, once for Best Supporting Actress (Carol) and once for Best Actress (the 2011 remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Fox Searchlight is expected to schedule Nightmare Alley sometime in prime “awards season” in late 2020.
Much like the previous Suicide Squad movie in 2016, director James Gunn’s soft reboot The Suicide Squad (8/6/2021) is expected to have a fairly large ensemble cast. Following the recent casting of comedian Steve Agee as the voice of King Shark, the new Suicide Squad team membership is pretty much filled, but presumably the new lineup will be facing multiple foes, and so far, none of those villains (or heroes) have been confirmed. So, we don’t have any idea who Peter Capaldi (A.K.A. the 12th Doctor Who) might be playing. Current Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson is also reportedly in the running for a small role (which is not surprising, as the show will return soon, so his time will be limited). Other new cast members in The Suicide Squad will include David Dastmalchian (Polka-Dot Man), Daniel Melchior (Ratcatcher), and Idris Elba, Nathan Fillian, and Taika Waititi in unknown roles. Pete Davidson also has an untitled comedy based on his life story scheduled next summer for June 19, 2020.
Like many (many) pop singers before and after him, Justin Timberlake has branched out since 2000 to include roles in movies ranging from animated films (Shrek the Third, Trolls), comedies (The Love Guru, Friends with Benefits), and Academy Award-nominated dramas (The Social Network, Inside Llewyn Davis). After taking a brief break following 2017’s Wonder Wheel, Timberlake is ready to star in another film, which will be Palmer, in which he will play a recently released ex-con trying to get his life back on track. Palmer will be directed by actor-turned-director Fisher Stevens, who won an Academy Award in 2010 for the documentary The Cove.
Outside Mullingar was a play set in Ireland and featuring a cast that included Debra Messing (TV’s Will & Grace) that debuted on Broadway in 2014, and now it’s being adapted as an independent movie called Wild Mountain Thyme. Northern Irish actor Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) has been attached to star in Wild Mountain Thyme for a while now, and this week, we learned who his co-stars will be. They include Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns), Jon Hamm (TV’s Mad Men), and Christopher Walken. Blunt and Dornan will play “obstinate star-crossed lovers, whose families are caught up in a feud over a hotly contested patch of land that separates their two farms.” (Blunt is reportedly replacing English actress Holliday Grainger, but no reason was given for the movie.). Production is scheduled to start in Ireland on September 30th, and Wild Mountain Thyme also recently acquired distribution rights in the USA.
It was only a little over two years ago that Tiffany Haddish had her big breakout role in Girls Trip, and she’s certainly stayed very busy since, with five movies released in 2018, another five in 2019, and a few different TV series roles as well. Tiffany Haddish is also now attached to star alongside Billy Crystal in an independent comedy called Here Today, which Crystal will also direct. Based on a short story called “The Prize” by screenwriter Alan Zweibel, Here Today will tell the story of “a veteran comedy writer (Crystal) who is slowly but surely losing his grip on reality and befriends a talented young New York street singer (Haddish).” Billy Crystal’s previous directorial credits include Mr. Saturday Night, Forget Paris, and the HBO baseball period drama 61*.
For obvious reasons, it’s not always easy to get a firm grasp of what a movie will look like when all we have to go on is the description in a trade article, but sometimes, it’s fun to imagine. This week, in a story that seemed to go relatively unreported, we learned of an independent drama called A Mouthful of Air, in which Amanda Seyfried will star, supported by a cast that includes Paul Giamatti, Finn Wittrock (TV’s American Horror Story), Amy Irving (Yentl), and Jennifer Carpenter (TV’s Dexter). Seyfried will play “a new mom and children’s book author, who escapes into the bright Crayola colored world of her creation in order to leave behind the darkness caused by her post partum depression.” It’s not yet known to what degree that “Crayola colored world” will be depicted, but the description sort of reminds this writer of the TV show Pushing Daisies or the Robin Williams movie What Dreams May Come.
Earlier this year, Disney finalized their plans to acquire the Fox film and TV properties, which excited many X-Men fans eager to see characters like Wolverine join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The bad news, however, is that X-Men wasn’t included in Marvel’s recent Phase 4 announcements for 2020 and 2021. Marvel doesn’t have any sort of trademark on the idea of a minority of young people being born with spectacular abilities, so a novel like Marcus Sakey’s Brilliance is free to explore that territory. Paramount Pictures this week acquired the film rights to Brilliance, with an eye towards Will Smith starring and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman adapting the screenplay. Goldsman previously wrote superhero movies like Batman & Robin (Rotten at 11%) and worked on comic book movies like Jonah Hex (Rotten at 12%) and The Losers (Rotten at 48%). Goldsman and Smith’s previous collaborations together have included Hancock (Rotten at 41%), I Am Legend (Fresh at 68%), and I, Robot (Rotten at 56%).
Not unlike Marvel’s Black Panther, last year’s comedy hit Crazy Rich Asians was celebrated for the positive message it sent about the possibilities of representation for all types of people both in front of and behind the camera, and the types of stories that are told. That’s why this week’s news about the two planned Crazy Rich Asians sequels (based on the books China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems) are particularly troubling. Screenwriter Adele Lim, who co-wrote Crazy Rich Asians with Peter Chiarelli, reportedly left the two sequel projects this week over salary disparity issues. Reportedly, Chiarelli was offered $800,000 and $1 million for the sequels, whereas Lim was only offered a sum in the $110,000 range, representing something like a mere 11% to 13% of what Chiarelli was to be paid. The explanation reportedly given is that Chiarelli’s salary offers were based upon his previous experience, as he has more credits than Lim currently does. This piece also delves into other questions that this Crazy Rich Asians controversy raises.