This Week’s Ketchup comes to you just two days after April Fool’s Day, but we promise that we waded through all of the jokes to try to bring you just the stories that we (are pretty sure) are actually real and legitimate. Still, even the “real” stories this week sound pretty fantastic at first glimpse. They include live action Disney remakes of Mulan and Winnie the Pooh, plans for a Play-Doh movie, and plans for an Avengers-style cinematic universe for the Transformers franchise.
Last week on Saturday Night Live, guest star Dwayne Johnson participated in a spoof of Disney’s current wave of live action remakes of their animated classics with a version of Bambi. That was just the beginning, however, of what became a very big week for actual news from Disney about their plans for even more of the same. First, on Monday, there was the news that Disney is planning a live-action remake of the 1998 Chinese epic Mulan. This new Mulan is being produced by Chris Bender and J.C. Spink through their company Benderspink, which has in the past given us such movies as Cats & Dogs, The Butterfly Effect, We’re the Millers, and Horrible Bosses 2. Then, on Thursday (and yes, we’re just skipping over April Fool’s Day), yet another movie was announced when we first heard that Walt Disney Pictures is also developing a live-action adaptation of Winnie the Pooh. Much like they’re doing with their remake of Pete’s Dragon (with indie drector David Lowery), Winnie the Pooh will be written and directed by Alex Ross Perry, who recently had a hit at Sundance with the film Listen Up Philip. In Perry’s new Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin will be an adult who returns to the Hundred Acre Wood to have more adventures with Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and hopefully, the rest. Mulan and Winnie the Pooh join a growing slate of Disney’s live action adaptations which include The Jungle Book (4/15/16), Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass (5/27/16), Pete’s Dragon (8/12/16), Beauty and the Beast (3/17/17), and Tim Burton’s remake of Dumbo.
As part of the publicity tour leading up to the May 15, 2015 release of Mad Max: Fury Road, actor Tom Hardy made an interesting remark about the franchise. It turns out that Warner Bros has already signed Hardy to star in another three movies as Mad Max beyond just this new reboot. What exactly these three additional movies would be about is currently unknown, but they probably involve a very sandy and dusty post-apocalyptic future where tattooed and/or spike-wearing people jump around on quickly moving vehicles a lot. Mad Max: Fury Road was directed by George Miller, the creator of the original trilogy (and the director of Babe, Happy Feet, and the sequels to both).
Although we haven’t seen the massive wave that some predicted, there remains an interest in Hollywood in more faith-based films to appeal to the audience that made hits of The Passion of the Christ and the mini-series The Bible. Some of the bigger such projects have included Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and next year’s remake of Ben-Hur. Warner Bros is now developing another Bible-based project called Apostle Paul, based on the life of the figure also known as Saul of Tarsus, with Hugh Jackman expected to star and produce. Hugh Jackman isn’t the only big star involved, however, as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are also producing. The script is currently being adapted by screenwriter Matt Cook, who will be making his debut this fall with Triple 9 (9/11/15). Saul of Tarsus was not one of Christ’s original disciples, but he became one of Christianity’s earliest and most important figures, as the growing religion spread throughout the Roman Empire. Perhaps not coincidentally, NBC will start airing a sequel to The Bible called A.D.: The Bible Continues on Easter Sunday (4/5/15), which is also set in the earliest days of Christianity’s spread following the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In other Hugh Jackman news, it was also reported this week that Wolverine 3 (3/3/17) may indeed be the last time that Jackman will play the Marvel superhero, despite a recent quote from Jackman about playing the character for the rest of his life.
A long-running movie industry scenario is that of “duelling movies”, in which competing studios or producers make similar movies at the same time, competing with each other. Unfortunately, the latest example comes from one of the USA’s worst recent tragedies. CBS Films is now fast-tracking a film called Patriots’ Day about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Patriots’ Day will be based on the first-hand accounts of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, with Mark Wahlberg reportedly interested in starring as Davis. This puts Patriots’ Day in direct competition with Boston Strong, a Boston Marathon Bombings drama announced in November at 20th Century Fox, with director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) attached. Boston Strong is expected to be in Boston later this month to film footage of this year’s marathon. It’s possible that both movies could start filming this year.
This story is technically stretched over the last two weeks or so, but most of it did happen late last week just after the previous Ketchup went to press, so we’ll cover it all right here. Two weeks ago, an Irish filmmaker posted a three-minute concept video on YouTube for a science fiction spec script called The Leviathan. The concept is set in the 22nd century, when mankind has achieved faster-than-light-speed travel through the harvesting of eggs from what are essentially massive space whales. Basically, The Leviathan sounds like a cross between Moby Dick and Dune… set even more in outer space. Well, the video proved quickly popular, and led to X-Men franchise producer Simon Kinberg and District 9/Chappie director Neill Blomkamp coming on board as producers. This likewise was quickly followed by the news that 20th Century Fox had picked up the project. The screenplay for The Leviathan is being written by screenwriter Jim Uhls, who is best known for adapting Fight Club and cowriting Jumper.
We may not yet know all seven stars who will be playing the title characters in the remake of The Magnficent Seven, but this week, we did learn who the main villain will be. Vincent D’Onofrio, who will play the Kingpin in Daredevil when it launches next week on Netflix, is now in early talks to play the film’s villain. If he signs, D’Onofrio will join the already cast Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke. That means that there’s still four more members of the titular septet to be cast. Columbia Pictures and MGM have scheduled the Antoine Fuqua-directed remake of The Magnificent Seven for February 13, 2017.
Not unlike Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the growing cast of the WB/DC Comics adaptation Suicide Squad is starting to require a score card to keep track of its ensemble. After this week, the Suicide Squad cast now includes at least 12 actors, including Will Smith (Deadshot), Joel Kinnaman (Rick Flagg), Viola Davis (Amanda Waller), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), and Jared Leto (The Joker). Three new actors joined this week, the first two of which (Scott Eastwood and Raymond Olubowale) are for unknown roles, although there are rumors that Olubowale may have been cast as King Shark. Speaking of humanoid water creatures, the third actor announced this week is former LOST star Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who also becomes the first major actor to make the transition from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (he was Kurse in Thor: The Dark World) to DC’s new film franchise, as he’s been cast as villain Killer Croc. It’s unknown how big of a role Killer Croc will have in Suicide Squad when it’s released on August 5, 2016. In other DC movie news, Adam West and Burt Ward revealed this week that for the 50th anniversary of their Batman TV series in 2016, they will be starring in a new 90 minute animated movie as Batman and Robin. This animated return to the 1960s version of Batman hasn’t been otherwise clarified (there’s a good chance it might be one of WB’s DC Universe animated movies.
Although the success of The LEGO Movie may have surprised some, it wasn’t exactly an overnight success, as narrative elements of that movie have been building up since the 1980s, through various sets, and video games, and other LEGO-related projects. There are definitely toy franchises that have narrative threads that might help them become film franchises, but some toys have never really branched out in those ways. One such long-standing toy is Hasbro’s Play-Doh, which since the 1950s has pretty much stayed exactly what it is. Play-Doh is a brightly-colored modelling compound that children can use to make… whatever (an aspect it does share with LEGO). This week, we learned that 20th Century Fox hopes that writer/director Paul Feig can “shape” a movie out of the Play-Doh license. Feig is best known for his movies with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig like Bridesmaids, The Heat, and the upcoming Ghostbusters project, but he’s also one of the producers on Fox’s upcoming CGI version of Peanuts (11/6/15). Play-Doh now joins other Hasbro properties in various states of development or production, such as the Transformers franchise, Jem and the Holograms (10/23/15), and Magic: The Gathering.
Canadian actor Stephen Amell shot to TV stardom by playing the street justice vigilante lead character in the CW series Arrow (based on the comic book character Green Arrow). This week, Amell signed on to play another street justice vigilante based on a comic book character. Stephen Amell will costar next summer in the sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (6/3/16) as Casey Jones, who uses sports equipment as weapons, such as baseball bats and hockey sticks, and wears a hockey mask. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 will be directed by David Green (Earth to Echo).
With four successful Transformers movies now released, Paramount Pictures this week set plans in motion to keep the franchise going for years and movies to come. The studio has done this by talking to screenwriter and producer Akiva Goldsman about setting up a “writer’s room” to incubate ideas for a multi-film Transformers sequel, as well as potential Transformers spinoff movies. Some writers online have interpreted this as meaning Transformers sequels that don’t necessarily, for example, have Optimus Prime or Megatron in them. Goldsman’s involvement in helping find writers and directors for these projects doesn’t necessarily mean that he himself will write any of the films (although he might). His career as screenwriter has included franchise entries like Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, The Da Vinci Code, and Angels & Demons, would-be franchise starters like Lost in Space, I Am Legend, and I, Robot, and acclaimed films like A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man. It’s also unclear whether director Michael Bay will be returning for future Transformers entries (Bay is currently preparing to direct the Benghazi movie 13 Hours). The first live action Transformers scored the quartet’s highest Tomatometer score (57%, just shy of Fresh), and the three sequels were all solidly Rotten at 19%, 36%, and 18%, respectively.