Weekly Ketchup

Weekly Ketchup: Chris Pratt Wanted for Indiana Jones Reboot

Plus, the all-female Ghostbusters are cast, and new roles for Matthew McConaughey, Emma Watson, and Brad Pitt.

by | January 30, 2015 | Comments

This week’s Ketchup comes to you from right in the middle of the Sundance Film Festival, but except for the news about the 25+ indie movies picked up for distribution there, you wouldn’t otherwise be able to tell. This was a week with lots of big studio announcements, regarding who will star in the Ghostbusters reboot, who the new Indiana Jones might be, or what new roles people like Matthew McConaughey, Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler, or Emma Watson are lining up.

 This Week’s Top Story


Five years ago, Walt Disney Pictures was still one of Hollywood’s biggest and most successful studios, but in 2009 and 2012, they made two corporate decisions that took them to a whole new level. Through their 2009 acquisition of Marvel, Disney ignited the spaceship engines that led to last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm gave them Star Wars to boot. Sort of forgotten in all of that is that Lucasfilm also owned the rights to the Indiana Jones franchise, which back in the 1980s was one of the most popular film franchises in the world. Paramount had attempted to revive the franchise in 2008, but seven years later, people mostly just remember this from that movie. This week, we learned that someone at Disney apparently had a “lightbulb-overhead” moment while looking at the opening scenes of Star-Lord plundering an ancient city for a valuable relic. Walt Disney Pictures has “set its sights” on casting Chris Pratt as the new Indiana Jones in a new franchise of movies about the 1930s archaelogist-adventurer famous for his whip, wise cracking humor, and hatred of snakes. Of course, it’s a long way from an idea to an actual movie, and Chris Pratt already has a growing slate. In addition to this summer’s Jurassic World, Pratt also starts filming the remake-of-a-remake of The Magnificient Seven (with Denzel Washington). He’s also attached to star in Universal’s Cowboy Ninja Viking for the directors of John Wick, and of course, there’s also Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which Marvel has scheduled for May 5, 2017.

Fresh Developments This Week


It’s all happened so fast, so it can be easy to forget that only a year ago (before the death of Harold Ramis), we were still talking about the long-in-development sequel Ghostbusters 3. Once we learned that Paul Feig was developing a total reboot with a quartet of female stars, several names were bandied about, with the cast of Bridesmaids (which Feig directed) frequently being mentioned. This week, we finally found out who the four stars will be, and they are evenly divided between Bridesmaids and Saturday Night Live cast members. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig were both in Bridesmaids, and Wiig is a former cast member on SNL, the show where her future costars Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are currently honing their comedic skills. Negotiations with all four are still underway, but if the deals work out, they will start filming the new Ghostbusters, which Sony Pictures has scheduled for July 22, 2016, in New York City (of course).



In the year since the release of Dallas Buyers Club, its tour through last year’s awards season, and the airing of the first season of HBO’s True Detective, Matthew McConaughey’s “people” have been prudently at work on making the most of his raised profile. This has included the Japanese drama The Sea of Trees, the jungle adventure Gold, the Civil War true story The Free State of Jones, and voice roles for both Illumination Entertainment and LAIKA on Kubo and the Two Strings. Oh, and on top of all of that, Matthew McConaughey is also frequently rumored to be Warner Bros’ choice to play Randall Flagg in their adaptations of Stephen King’s The Stand. Now, we can add another true story based on the Christopher McDougall non-fiction book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen. The book spent over three years on the New York Times Bestseller list, and has sold over 3 million copies. McConaughey will play an American journalist who travels to Mexico’s Copper Canyon to learn how the indigenous Tarahumara people are able to run barefoot across the desert at great speeds without any injury. The popularity of the book has led to a resurgence in the popularity of barefoot running, which is now reportedly a $2-billion-a-year industry. Born to Run will need some time to develop (it currently doesn’t have a director, for example), as the script is worked on by Matthew Michael Carnahan, whose credits include State of Play, World War Z, and the upcoming Deepwater Horizon project, which Peter Berg (Battleship, Lone Survivor) is now in talks to direct.



In the week before Thanksgiving, 2013, it was probably impossible to have much contact with social media without being aware of one of the most elaborate examples ever of flash mobbing, crowd funding, and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. On November 15, 2013, a large section of the city of San Francisco was transformed into “Gotham City” to grant 5 year old cancer patient Miles Scott his wish of becoming “Batkid” for one day. A little over a year later, Scott’s story has inspired a documentary feature called Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World, which screened in competition at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival. And the story doesn’t end there, because Julia Roberts and her Red Om Films production company have now stepped in to adapt Batkid Begins as a feature film. Roberts will also star in the movie, although it’s unclear what her role will be. Batkid Begins is currently an independent production, but one would imagine that there will be a strong motivation for Warner Bros to participate in some form, since it will be a very different story without their characters like Batman, Penguin, and the Riddler.



At the same time that Walt Disney Pictures is developing all of their various live action remakes of their classic animated movies, there are also frequently other studios and filmmakers who are developing similar projects elsewhere, in competition with Disney. (Disney’s The Jungle Book on 4/15/16 will be followed, for example, by Warner Bros’ Jungle Book: Origins on 10/6/17.) Other times, the competition drops out as Disney gets closer to production, and that’s what happened last summer with Guillermo Del Toro’s plans for a live action Beauty and the Beast, even after he cast Harry Potter star Emma Watson to play the “Beauty.” Seven months later, we can now report that Watson has indeed been cast by Walt Disney Pictures as Belle, AKA the “Beauty” in Beauty and the Beast. To be clear, this project has nothing to do with Guillermo Del Toro, as Disney’s version will instead be directed by Bill Condon (Chicago, Dreamgirls, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2). As Emma Watson herself soon clarified, unlike most of the other recent Disney live action movies, this Beauty and the Beast will also be a musical, including such songs as “Be Our Guest” and “Something There.” This project will also be a reunion of sorts for Emma Watson, who starred in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which was written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, who is also writing this new live action adaptation. Production is expected to start in late 2015, possibly for a release date in 2017.



Ever since Angelina Jolie first started focusing more on her career as a director than (necessarily) her career as an actress, it was probably inevitable that she would cast a certain A list movie star, and that happened with her third film as director, By the Sea. Brad Pitt is now in talks to star in her fourth film as well, playing Kenyan paleo-archaeologist Richard Leakey in a film called Africa. The film, as written by screenwriter Eric Roth (Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) will depict Leakey’s struggles to protect Africa’s elephant population from ivory poachers. With a script, director, and star all lined up, Africa may be fast tracked to start filming in Kenya as early as this summer.



Ever since the 1990s, each January has lured Hollywood insiders from both indie distributors and studio subsidiaries in the hope of acquiring the next Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, Napoleon Dynamite, The Blair Witch Project, Saw, or (500) Days of Summer. Some years seem to be sort of slow for acquisition news, but this was not one of those years, with a current total of 28 films that have been acquired for distribution (and that number will continue to grow well into February, because it always does). The current stand out (at least on paper) is probably the teen drama Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which Fox Searchlight acquired for a record $12 million, probably hoping to replicate their parent studio’s success last year with The Fault in Our Stars. Other titles out of Sundance to watch out for in the next year or so will be: 10,000 Saints, Best of Enemies, The Bronze, Brooklyn, City of Gold, Cop Car, The D Train, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Digging for Fire, Don Verdean, Dope, Dreamcatcher, The End of the Tour, Grandma, In Football We Trust, Knock Knock, Misery Loves Comedy, Mississippi Grind, Mistress America, The Overnight, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, Results, Reversal, Strangerland, Tangerine, The Witch, and The Wolfpack. Like we said, this was a very, very busy year at Sundance.

Rotten Ideas of the Week


Hollywood history is littered with film projects that kick around in movie development for decades without ever getting made. The impetus for these projects often comes from one or two successes that inspire development executives to start picking up similar ideas to make lightning strike twice. One such hit was 1994’s The Flintstones, which led Universal Pictures to start work on other live-action adaptations of old Hanna-Barbera cartoon TV shows. One such project was the future-set family sitcom The Jetsons, which was possibly hindered at the time by the box office flop experienced by Jetsons: The Movie in 1990, which was instead an animated adaptation (some 20+ years after the show was popular). A few years ago, the rights to the Hanna-Barbera shows landed at Warner Bros, and for a while, the studio was still developing it as live action (with Kanye West somehow involved). This week, the news broke that Warner Bros is now developing The Jetsons as another animated movie, and the first step was to hire unproduced screenwriter Matt Lieberman, who is also working on a new Scooby-Doo movie for Warner Bros. Although he has yet to get a movie produced, Matt Lieberman has landed lots of jobs in Hollywood, including working on a remake of Short Circuit, a Paramount Animation project called Giant Monsters Attack Japan, and a “found footage Santa Claus” movie called 12/24.



One can hypothesize that there could be loose rules for various types of movie projects (remakes, reboots, cinematic universes, etc). For sequels, it often seems like there should be a “sell by date,” just like you find on lunch meat and milk jugs. How long that time should be is debatable, and probably varies from film to film, but anything above 15 years is probably pushing it. Take, for example, the 1996 alien invasion movie Independence Day, which was not only the #1 box office movie of that year (with $817 million worldwide), but at the time, it was the #2 movie of all time, after Jurassic Park. Talk about a sequel started almost immediately, and for many years, the sequel called ID Forever seemed like it was perpetually a year or two away from happening. Well, we’re now looking at the 20th anniversary happening next summer, and the same is still basically the same for the sequel. For a while, there was talk of two sequels being filmed back-to-back, but now Fox has trimmed the plans down to just one, which is scheduled for June 24, 2016. 20th Century Fox has reportedly extended an offer to Liam Hemsworth, costar of The Hunger Games (and brother to Thor), for him to be the star of ID Forever. Two years ago, there had been a story about Michael B. Jordan (of the Fantastic Four reboot) also being in the running for a role (probably as the son of Will Smith’s character, who won’t be returning for the sequel), but he wasn’t mentioned in this week’s story. ID Forever will be directed by Roland Emmerich, who also directed the first movie, and whose last five films as directors have all received Rotten Tomatometer scores.



Last year, when Netflix announced a multi-film deal with Adam Sandler, pundits and fans alike were divided about how they felt about the news, frequently in the same paragraph. On the one hand, it suggested a trend towards comedies abandoning theatrical releases (bad), but what if you don’t like Adam Sandler movies (good)? And then the rollercoaster story of The Interview happened, and the film (although likely a fluke that can never be repeated) earned possibly as much through streaming as it might have in its originally planned theatrical release (currently at $40 million and growing). This week, we learned who Netflix and Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison has been able to recruit into costarring in their first collaboration, a Western ensemble comedy called Ridiculous 6 (spoofing The Magnificent Seven). The title sextet will be a group of half- brothers made up of Adam Sandler (whose character was raised by a Native American tribe), Taylor Lautner (who costarred in Grown Ups 2), Brooklyn Nine-Nine costar Terry Crews, Luke Wilson, frequent Sandler costar Rob Schneider, and a sixth actor not yet announced. Nick Nolte will play Sandler’s father, Will Forte and Danny Trejo will play rival gang leaders, country singer Blake Shelton will play Wyatt Earp, and Vanilla Ice will play author Mark Twain (yes, really). Other roles will go to Dan Aykroyd, Steve Buscemi, Whitney Cummings, Jon Lovitz, Nick Swardson, Steve Zahn, and Lavell Crawford (Huell from Breaking Bad). Ridiculous 6 had previously been in development at both Paramount and Sony, but when Adam Sandler made his deal with Netflix, it was one of the Happy Madison projects that went along with him. Frequent Sandler director Frank Coraci (Blended, Click, The Waterboy) will direct from a script cowritten by Adam Sandler and another frequent collaborator, Tim Herlihy, when filming starts on Ridiculous 6 in a few weeks.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.