This Week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Metal Gear Solid, The Toxic Avenger, and Van Helsing.
(Photo by Chiabella James/©Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
Just over a year ago, when Disney+ first launched on November 12, 2019, it may have seemed crazy that any streaming app could ever compete with Netflix, which has shows like The Crown, Stranger Things, and The Umbrella Company. That, of course, was before anyone had seen The Mandalorian, and before we knew much about Warner Bros.’ HBO Max app, the scope of which exploded with this week’s big news. Just two weeks after the revelation that Wonder Woman 1984 will debut on HBO Max on December 25, 2020 on the same day it premieres in theaters, Warner Bros. has announced that their entire theatrical slate for 2021 will also debut day-and-date simultaneously on the HBO Max app, at no additional cost (besides the monthly subscription rate), due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on movie theaters. We’re talking here about 17 movies, both big and small, including Mortal Kombat (1/15/2021), Tom and Jerry (3/5/2021), the Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark (3/12/2021), Godzilla vs Kong (5/21/2021), The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (6/4/2021), Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights (6/18/2021), Space Jam: A New Legacy (7/16/2021), James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (8/6/2021), Dune (10/1/2021), Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis (11/5/2021), and The Matrix 4 (12/22/2021), among others. Super unsurprisingly, HBO Max also ended their free trial promotion yesterday. This surprise announcement also came just a week after the news last week that Netflix had offered Warner Bros. $200 million for the streaming rights to Godzilla vs Kong alone. Warner Bros.’ announcement also left an immediate impact on movie theater exhibition stocks yesterday, the leaders of many of which had the expected negative-to-mixed reactions (the most negative of which came from AMC). You can see new logos for many of these films here, and the official announcement trailer right here. As for what this means for the future of the movie theater business past 2021, no one really knows, but Variety explored some of those questions here.
(Photo by Andrew Cooper/©Columbia Pictures)
After reuniting with his La La Land star Ryan Gosling for the moon landing drama First Man (Certified Fresh at 87%), director Damien Chazelle has been planning on also reuniting with the former’s other star, Emma Stone, for Babylon, about Hollywood’s transitional period between silent films and the “talkies” of the 1920 and 1930s. In a surprise move this week, however, Stone has dropped out due to scheduling conflicts (it’s unclear what film the conflict is with), with Margot Robbie now in talks for the role, which is believed to be the original “It Girl,” silent star Clara Bow. If Robbie does sign on for Babylon, the movie will effectively become a reunion project for another film set in Hollywood’s past, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Certifed Fresh at 85%), as the Babylon male lead is Brad Pitt. In related news, actress Li Jun Li (TV’s Quantico, The Exorcist) has also been cast as early Chinese American movie star Anna May Wong. Paramount Pictures has scheduled Babylon for an awards-qualifying limited release on Christmas Day, 2021, followed by a wide release on January 7, 2022.
(Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix)
Although his run as Poe Dameron in the final three Star Wars chapters is over, Oscar Isaac continues to stack up new franchises, which before this week’s news already included The Addams Family (in which he voices Gomez), the Dune remake (10/21/2021), and the MCU with his Disney+ role as Moon Knight. We can add to that list the long-in-development video game adaptation Metal Gear Solid, in which Isaac will star as franchise star and super spy Solid Snake. With over a dozen main franchise games published since the 1990s, Metal Gear Solid has the potential of being a multi-film franchise on par with Resident Evil. Metal Gear Solid has long been a dream project for director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island, The Kings of Summer), who will be working off a screenplay by Derek Connolly (Safety Not Guaranteed; co-writer of Jurassic World). Other projects Oscar Isaac has in the works include the Ex Machina comic book adaptation The Great Machine and the Hollywood true story Francis and the Godfather.
(Photo by RCF/Everett Collection)
As we get closer to the Christmas Day premiere of Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max and in theaters, Gal Gadot has found another lucrative genre to add to her filmography in addition to superheroes and (formerly) the racing action of the Fast & Furious movies. Gadot has finalized a deal for upwards of $10 million with Skydance Media to star in the spy thriller Heart of Stone,which is being described as a potential franchise-starter in the style of James Bond and Mission: Impossible. Tom Harper, who directed Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in the hot air balloon adventure The Aeronauts (Certified Fresh at 72%) is currently in talks to direct Heart of Stone from a screenplay by comic book writer Greg Rucka (Netflix’s The Old Guard, Certified Fresh at 81%) and screenwriter Allison Schroeder (co-writer of Hidden Figures, Christpher Robin). Other projects Gal Gadot has in the works include her starring role in Cleopatra and the Netflix action movie Red Notice, along with Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.
(Photo by HBO)
For years now, whenever fans speculate about the casting of a possible Alpha Flight movie, one of the inevitable picks is Peter Dinklage as Puck (because of their similarity in height). Instead, when Dinklage did actually make his debut in a Marvel Studios movie, it was in X-Men: Days of Future Past (Certified Fresh at 90%) as the scientist Bolivar Trask, and that role was later followed by a turn as Eitri, King of the Dwarves, in Avengers: Infinity War (Certified Fresh at 85%). As it turns out, however, Dinklage’s first true superhero role will be one with indie filmmaking roots far outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe: in the remake of Troma’s The Toxic Avenger (Fresh at 70%). Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman is co-producing the reboot for Legendary Pictures, the same production company that gave us Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and Warner Bros’ current Godzilla franchise. Dinklage’s reboot of The Toxic Avenger will reportedly “subvert” the superhero genre in the style of Marvel’s Deadpool, which makes sense when you find out that it will be directed by actor Macon Blair (Blue Ruin), who made his directorial debut with I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (Certified Fresh at 89%).
(Photo by Eli Winston/Everett Collection)
Broadway star Cynthia Erivo was one of last year’s Best Actress nominees for her role as Harriet Tubman in Harriet (Fresh at 74%), and now she’s found another biopic set in the 19th century, as she is attached to produce and star in an untitled film about the life of African princess Omoba Aina (A.K.A. Sara Forbes Bonetta), who was enslaved and then eventually became the goddaughter of Queen Victoria of England. The film will be partly adapted from the biographical book At Her Majesty’s Request. Benedict Cumberbatch will also be one of the project’s producers, but it’s not yet known if he will also take on one of the film’s historical roles.
(Photo by Jaap Buitendijk/©Universal Pictures)
Just a couple of weeks after the Netflix premiere of his latest film as director, Hillbilly Elegy (Rotten at 25%), Ron Howard is already getting ready for his next film as director. That movie will be Thirteen Lives, about the cave rescue effort in Thailand in 2018, which will start filming in Australia in March, 2021. Howard’s Thirteen Lives now also stands out as the possible winner in a race to get a major movie about the incident produced after a surprising six different projects were confirmed to be in development within a few months of the disaster. Thirteen Lives will be a joint production between Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment and MGM. No casting has been announced yet.
(Photo by (c)Universal courtesy Everett Collection)
Universal’s attempts to move on from the Dark Universe idea got rolling in style earlier this year with The Invisible Man (Certified Fresh at 91%), and they continue to develop films based on their classic monster lineup almost more intensely than they did before. The 2004 Hugh Jackman action movie Van Helsing (Rotten at 24%) was a famous misfire, but the vampire-hunting Dracula character himself appears to still have fans at Universal, because the studio is moving forward with plans for a Van Helsing reboot. Universal Pictures is teaming up with producer James Wan (Aquaman, The Conjuring) for a new Van Helsing film to be directed by Julius Avery, who in 2018 gave us the Nazi zombie movie Overlord (Certified Fresh at 81%). It’s not yet known what sort of tone the new Van Helsing will take, or whether it will directly connect to other Universal monster movies (either before or after Van Helsing). Julius Avery will also be rewriting a pre-existing Van Helsing reboot screenplay draft written by screenwriter Eric Pearson (Marvel’s Black Widow; co-writer of Thor: Ragnarok).
(Photo by Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
Every once in a while, an actor will be lucky enough to have two new movies announced in the same week. This week, it’s Jason Statham, and neither movie is a sequel to any of his recent hits like The Meg or Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, but one of them was almost a sequel. Jason Statham is in advanced talks to star in the Russian crime thriller Small Dark Look, which was originally developed as a sequel to the Viggo Mortensen drama Eastern Promises (Certified Fresh at 89%). It sounds, however, like elements of the movie have been changed (notably, probably changing the character from the one played by Viggo Mortensen), so that it’s no longer a sequel. The other Jason Statham movie to make the news this week is an untitled thriller to be directed by Guy Ritchie, whose first two features, 1998’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Certified Fresh at 75%) and 2001’s Snatch (Fresh at 73%), helped launch Statham’s movie career. The new project, which was previously titled Five Eyes, will team Statham up with Parks & Recreation star Aubrey Plaza as an international super spy who must work with a high-tech CIA expert on a “globe-trotting mission to infiltrate a billionaire arms broker.” This project appears to be one that Ritchie is taking on while others, including Disney’s live-action sequel to 2019’s Aladdin (Rotten at 57%), continue to be developed.