This week’s Ketchup covers seven days from the world of film development news headlines. Included in the mix this time around are news stories for such movies as Bad Boys 3, Marvel’s Doctor Strange, Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, the female-led Ghostbusters remake, and two new movies starring Brad Pitt.
With director Paul Feig’s latest Melissa McCarthy comedy Spy now in theaters, it appears that he is wasting little time in proceeding on casting his biggest movie ever, the female-led remake of Ghostbusters. We learned a while back now that the four leads would be Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and current Saturday Night Live stars Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. What was less clear was how analagous their characters, or really any characters in the remake, would be to the original 1984 comedy. Well, this week, we heard about a fairly major movie star landing a role in the remake, and the news suggested that the roles might be very similar indeed. Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Huntsman) has been cast as the Ghostbusters’ receptionist, basically taking on the gender-swapped Janine role played by Annie Potts in the first two movies. It’s pretty easy to imagine how Hemsworth fits the receptionist role, in the same way that the female Ghostbusters themselves are presumably gender-opposite to the original movie. It also begs the question of whether there will be a female supporting character in the vein of Rick Moranis’ Louis Tully, for whom Chris Hemsworth’s receptionist will be a romantic interest. Filming of the all-female Ghostbusters remake is scheduled to start in New York City this summer, with a planned release on July 22, 2016.
With Netflix now in the business of presenting shows based on Marvel Studios characters, this story is definitely one that may confuse some people when they first hear about it. That’s because Netflix will be producing a movie called War Machine, starring Brad Pitt, who seems like the sort of actor who should, you know, probably do a Marvel movie or something. The Netflix movie called War Machine will be an adaptation of the non-fiction book The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan, by the late author Michael Hastings. The book was about NATO General Stanley McChrystal, but it’s sounding like the general character (to be played by Pitt) will be ficitonalized at least partially. We’re guessing that because the press release about War Machine never actually mentions Stanley McChrystal by name. War Machine will also be a political comedy, will start filming in August under the direction of David Michôd (Animal Kingdom, The Rover), and will receive a theatrical release in 2016. Further down the road, Brad Pitt is also attached to star in “an untitled period spy thriller” for director Robert Zemeckis (The Walk, Flight, Cast Away). We’ve actually known about this one for a while, but the news this week is that French actress Marion Cotillard is in talks to be Pitt’s female costar. Marion Cotillard will first costar with Michael Fassebender in the Assassin’s Creed movie this fall, and then filming of the Zemeckis/Pitt/Cotillard spy movie will start in early 2016.
Back in January, in a sort of busy news week, we first heard that Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) was talking to Marvel Studios about appearing in next year’s Doctor Strange, but the identity of his character wasn’t given. And then, when Tilda Swinton was cast recently as The Ancient One (a character one might have guessed for Ejiofor), and Ejiofor wasn’t mentioned, it seemed like maybe that casting beat hadn’t been followed through. Well, this week, we learned that not only has Chiwetel Ejiofor joined Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange, but that he will be playing one of Strange’s most iconic villains: Baron Mordo. In the comics, Baron Mordo was the star sorcerous pupil of the Ancient One when Stephen Strange first enters the picture, who is then stepped over in Strange’s progression, and so he turns to evil sorcery in alignment with the Dread Dormammu. That may not necessarily be how it happens in the movie, however, as Ejiofor’s “Baron Mordo” is being described as an “amalgamation of characters culled from Doctor Strange’s mythology.” There were indeed several mystic characters that the early Doctor Strange came into conflict with (such as Kaluu, Marduk, Demonicus, Nightmare, and Dormammu, himself) that could feasibly be merged with aspects of Baron Mordo to create such an amalgam.
After making her directorial debut with the $250-million-and-counting hit sequel Pitch Perfect 2 (and a Fresh 66% Tomatometer score), Elizabeth Banks is poised to transition into other genres. Banks is now in talks with Universal Pictures and production company Benderspink (Horrible Bosses 2, We’re the Millers) to direct their YA adaptation called Red Queen. Based upon a recent YA novel by Victoria Aveyard, Red Queen tells the story of a young street urchin from a world where people are separated by the color of their blood (silver blooded people have super powers and rule over the peons with regular old red blood). The script was adapted by Gennifer Hutchison, whose TV credits include five episodes of Breaking Bad and two episodes of Better Call Saul. Red Queen is the first of what is expected to be a trilogy, but as it’s just barely started development, it will probably not be Elizabeth Banks’ immediately next film as director.
Although Danny McBride has brought his unique je-ne-sais-quoi to such well-reviewed comedies as Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, and This is the End, taken as a whole thus far, his Tomatometer tells a more Rotten story. But, if we zoom in on just his HBO series Eastbound and Down, we get another perspective, with that show earning a perfect score of 100% Fresh. This week’s Danny McBride news is directly related to Eastbound and Down, as it will reunite McBride with that show’s director, co-creator, and executive producer, Jody Hill. Jody Hill also directed Observe and Report, and made his feature film debut with The Foot Fist Way, which starred McBride. Josh Brolin will also star in the comedy called The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter, the premise of which is being kept secret. We’re just going to make a crazy guess, however, and speculate that Danny McBride and/or Josh Brolin will play a whitetail deer hunter. Just a hunch.
Having worked together on this past Oscar season’s Best Picture contender Selma, two of that film’s stars are preparing to work together on another film as at least co-producers. Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo are both in talks to produce a live-action fantasy children’s film called The Water Man for Walt Disney Pictures. Described as being in the style of both Stand by Me and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Water Man tells the story of a young boy who befriends “a mythical man who is said to have the secret to immortality, in an effort to help his ailing mother.” If David Oyelowo does sign on, he would also costar in the movie as the boy’s father (it’s unknown if Oprah Winfrey would also take an acting role, though it sounds like maybe she might play the boy’s sick mother?). The Water Man was written by newcomer Emma Needell, who has thus far written and directed two short films, and a web series called Drones.
Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube are now both in talks to costar in a school-based comedy called Fist Fight. The comedy is based at New Line Cinema, where Ice Cube has starred in the lucrative Friday franchise, and where Charlie Day has starred in the Horrible Bosses movies. Reportedly in the style of the 1980s teen comedy Three O’Clock High, Fist Fight will tell the story of a timid teacher (Day) who has to spend a day getting ready for a fight challenged against him by another teacher (Cube) who thinks his job is in jeopardy. If a deal comes together, and a director can be found in time, filming will start in September. Fist Fight will mark the feature debut of screenwriters Van Robichaux and Evan Susser, who have previously worked on shorts for the Funny or Die website.
Originally scheduled for November 27, 2013 (a release date which eventually went to Frozen instead), it’s been known for a while now that Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur has had something of a rocky road through production. Today (coincidentally on the same day Jurassic World is being released), we learned that Pixar went so far as to dump all of the previously recorded voice work, keeping only Frances McDormand in the new cast and either replacing or excising everyone else completely. In the lead role of Arlo the Apatosaurus, Lucas Neff was replaced by Raymond Ochoa, and Arlo’s father went from John Lithgow to Jeffrey Wright. Arlo’s three siblings — formerly to be voiced by Judy Greer, Bill Hader, and Neil Patrick Harris — have been removed from the movie entirely, replaced by a single brother called Buck (voiced by Marcus Scribner from TV’s black-ish). The final voice cast instead includes Steve Zahn (as a pterodactyl), and the trio of Sam Elliott, A.J. Buckley and Anna Paquin (all as T. Rexes), and Jack Bright as Arlo’s human friend, Spot. This is not the first time Pixar has replaced a voice cast, but it is believed to be the first time the studio has replaced an entire voice track and all but one of the voice cast. Walt Disney Pictures has scheduled The Good Dinosaur for November 25, 2015.
It has now been twelve years since the 2003 release of Bad Boys II (and 20 years and a month since the first Bad Boys in May, 1995). For most of those twelve years, someone at Sony has been trying to get a third Bad Boys buddy cop sequel greenlit for production. This week, we learned that the possibility of seeing a third movie pairing Will Smith and Martin Lawrence is still viable, with the news that a new screenwriter is now in talks. The writer in question is writer-director Joe Carnahan, whose filmography has included 2010’s The A-Team, as well as The Grey, Narc, and Smokin’ Aces. Carnahan was also the writer-director who spent time a few years ago at 20th Century Fox working on a 1970s-set Daredevil movie (the 2 minute “sizzle reel” for which, you can watch right here) before the rights eventually reverted back to Marvel, resulting in the recent Netflix series. Joe Carnahan’s Tomatometer has both Fresh and Rotten scores fairly evenly, but we’re calling this one a “Rotten Idea” for one reason: Neither of the first two Bad Boys movies earned a Tomatometer score higher than 43%.
Yesterday, the world learned that British actor Sir Christopher Lee died on Sunday, two weeks after turning 93. If Lee had passed away at the age of 73 instead of 93, his career still would have been monumental, including dozens of Hammer horror films (as Fu Manchu, Rasputin, The Mummy, Frankenstein’s Mummy, and most famously and prolificly, Count Dracula). The first half of his career also included a few films as Sherlock Holmes, and roles in The Man with the Golden Gun, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, and the original, not-awful, version of The Wicker Man. The world was fortunate that Sir Christopher Lee did continue to work in the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s, developing working relationships with directors who had been Hammer Films fans as children, such as Tim Burton (in five films, including Sleepy Hollow and Corpse Bride), Peter Jackson (playing the wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings films), and George Lucas (who cast Lee as Count Dooku in two of the Star Wars prequels). Sir Christopher Lee even continued working into his 90s, mostly doing narration and voice work for cartoons and video games, but he also recorded two heavy metal albums inspired by his ancestor Charlemagne. Director Peter Jackson wrote of Lee’s passing, “There will never be another Christopher Lee. He has a unique place in the history of cinema and in the hearts of millions of fans around the world. The world will be a lesser place without him in it.”