This week’s Ketchup covers the seven days leading up to the 4th of July in the United States, and ten stories that emerged from the realm of film development news. Movies that were covered in this week’s news include Green Lantern, Hello Kitty, Justice League Dark, Monopoly, Mother’s Day, Pinocchio, and the Back to the Future remake (that won’t be happening).
In our modern era of movies dominated by adaptations of popular characters from every media imaginable, there are still some franchises that have surprisingly not yet received their own big budget movies. One such character is Sanrio’s Hello Kitty, who started 40 years ago this year as a character on Japanese purses. Now, Sanrio’s Hello Kitty license accounts for a marketing phenomenon that earns in the range of $5-$7 billion each year. Hello Kitty can be seen in video games and cartoon/anime TV shows, but she hasn’t had a feature film yet. That will change in 2019, as Sanrio has devoted a budget in the range of $160 million and $240 million (including advertising) to make it happen. There is no word yet as to whether the Hello Kitty movie will be animated or live action, but Sanrio’s intention is to produce a movie for a global audience. There’s also no word yet about what writers, directors, or stars might be considered.
Thirty years ago today, on July 3, 1985, Universal Pictures released the original Back to the Future. Since Hollywood is in the midst of a current wave of remakes and reboots of favorites from the 1980s, there have been the expected posts online in the recent past speculating about whether Universal Pictures might reboot or remake Back to the Future. Well, the film’s director Robert Zemeckis has good news on that front, promising that as long as he and screenwriter Bob Gale are still alive, Back to the Future won’t be remade. Specifically, Zemeckis was quoted as saying, “That can’t happen until both Bob and I are dead. And then I’m sure they’ll do it, unless there’s a way our estates can stop it. I mean, to me, that’s outrageous. Especially since it’s a good movie. It’s like saying ‘Let’s remake Citizen Kane. Who are we going to get to play Kane?’ What folly, what insanity is that? Why would anyone do that?'” It is believed that both Robert Zemeckis (age 63) and Bob Gale (age 64) are in good health, so hopefully, we should be good for at least another 25 years, though if someone invents the flux capacitor, who knows…?
Before Joaquin Phoenix eventually signed on to star in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice last year, there had been a time when Robert Downey, Jr. was attached to star instead. It appears that Downey and Anderson still want to work together someday, because Downey has hired Paul Thomas Anderson to work on something of an out-of-left-field adaptation. Paul Thomas Anderson is now adapting the classic Italian children’s novel Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, with an eye towards possibly directing. Since wrapping Inherent Vice, it has been unknown what film might be Anderson’s eighth feature film (that’s right, he’s only directed seven movies!). Robert Downey, Jr is producing this live action adaptation, as well as being attached to play Geppetto. It’s expected that development is stepping up as a reaction to the faster rate at which Walt Disney Pictures is producing their own live action adaptations of their animated classics. As of this writing, Disney isn’t currently developing a Pinocchio remake… yet.
With the 4th of July falling on a Saturday this year, and Hollywood types loving to stretch holiday weekends out as much as possible, this was something of a slow movie news week. So, this Week’s Ketchup is reporting on some stories that otherwise might not have made the grade. An example of this is the idea that Tyrese Gibson (of the Fast and Furious franchise) might have something going on with Warner Bros’ plans for a new Green Lantern movie. It started with Gibson talking with Entertainment Tonight, saying that he had been talking to Warner Bros about a role he can’t discuss, after which he immediately started talking about Green Lantern. That was followed by a series of posts to Gibson’s Instagram showing images of Green Lantern John Stewart (there have been five major human Green Lanterns in the comics). It’s unclear exactly what’s going on, but this writer suspects that Tyrese Gibson did indeed talk to Warner Bros, wants the job, and is now trying to help his case via online campaigning. The solo Green Lantern movie isn’t scheduled until 2020, but it’s very possible “a” Green Lantern could appear in earlier films, whether it be Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (3/25/15), Justice League Part One (11/17/17), or any of the other DC Comics that are coming in the next few years.
Daniel Radcliffe (the Harry Potter franchise), Paul Dano (12 Years a Slave), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs the World) are all signed to star in an independent movie called Swiss Army Man. It’s not yet known if the movie will be a “comedy,” but the unusual premise involves a man who is a stranded in the wilderness, where he befriends a dead body (!) and the two team up to get out of the woods. It’s unclear which role will be played by which actor (and indeed, since the “body” is gender-neutral, that role could even be Winstead’s). Swiss Army Man will mark the feature film debut of directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who have worked together on a series of short films under the name “The Daniels.” Some of their films have done well at the Sundance Film Festival, and Swiss Army Man is a project that was first developed at one of the Sundance Institute’s filmmaker labs.
Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the release of Michael Collins, and the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, one of the key events in Ireland’s rebellion against British rule (and in the film). Now, Liam Neeson’s son Michael Neeson is preparing “http://deadline.com/2015/07/michael-neeson-michael-collins-liam-neeson-the-rising-1201467114/” target=”_blank”>to take his first major role by playing Michael Collins himself in a new film called The Rising. The Rising will also mark the feature film debut of Irish director Michael McCann. As of this writing, The Rising does not have distribution in the USA.
Sometimes news items that might be of more direct interest to movie fans are hidden within stories that are not as obviously of immediate interest (ie, “burying the lead”). That sort of happened this week as various sources reported on a corporate shuffling at Warner Bros and its subsidiary New Line Cinema. Going forward, New Line Cinema will be handling adaptations of titles published by Vertigo Comics, so that Warner Bros can focus on DC Comics. Specifically, the first movie under this arrangement is expected to be the long-in-development of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt is attached to star. What confuses this story a bit is that several characters that were previously under the Vertigo banner (such as John Constantine of Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, etc) are now DC Comics characters again, so their movie futures would be handled by Warner Bros. And then, there’s Shazam, which is a DC Comics character whose movie will remain at New Line Cinema. And, in the spirit of burying the lead, this is where we finally get around to mentioning that this means that Justice League Dark (AKA Dark Universe), which teams up various supernatural/spooky characters as a super team, will stay at Warner Bros. Warner Bros is still developing Justice League Dark, but they are now doing it without director Guillermo Del Toro, who has departed the project so that he can focus on films such as Crimson Peak (10/16/15) and Pacific Rim 2 (8/4/17).
After working together on 2013’s Lone Survivor, director Peter Berg (Battleship, Hancock) and Mark Wahlberg reunited for the oil spill drama Deepwater Horizon, which is currently filming, and also made a deal for a movie based on the 1970s TV show (retitled) The Six Billion Dollar Man. The two are now continuing their working relationship with an action movie called Mile 22. In the film, Wahlberg will play a CIA agent who has to escort an informant across 22 miles of Indonesia, from the center of a city to the local airport. UFC-champion-turned-actress Ronda Rousey and Iko Uwais (The Raid) have also landed roles in Mile 22. The film will be distributed by STX Entertainment, the new distribution company behind such upcoming films as The Gift, Secret in Their Eyes, The Boy, and The Free State of Jones. Mile 22 is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas because Peter Berg has only directed, written, or starred in one movie (Lone Survivor) in the last ten years which earned a Fresh Tomatometer score.
In 2010, director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride) had one of his biggest recent box office hits with the holiday themed ensemble comedy Valentine’s Day. This was followed a year later by New Year’s Eve. Now, four years later, Marshall is lining up a new ensemble for a movie which would ostensibly be released in May, 2016: Mother’s Day. Julia Roberts, who was part of the ensemble cast of Valentine’s Day, is already signed to costar in Mother’s Day as her fourth film directed by Garry Marshall. Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, and Jason Sudeikis are also in talks for roles in the comedy, which was written by Anya Kochoff-Romano (Monster-in-Law) and Lily Hollander (feature film debut). Like Marshall’s previous two holiday ensemble films, Mother’s Day will tell intertwining stories leading up to the holiday in question. New Line Cinema distributed both Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, but currently, the film is being shopped around to other studios as well. Mother’s Day is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because you have to go all the way back to 1991 and Frankie & Johnny to find a movie directed by Garry Marshall that earned a Fresh Tomatometer score. The closest Marshall has come to a Fresh score in the last 20 years was the 47% he earned for The Princess Diaries in 2001.
Back in 2012, when Universal Pictures made moves to separate from its deal to adapt various Hasbro board games (including Clue and Candy Land), it seemed like a sign that the mini-trend would be short-lived. (This all happened a few months before Universal Pictures released their Hasbro adaptation Battleship). One of the long-in-development projects that was formerly at Universal Pictures was the Monopoly board game adaptation, which at one point, Ridley Scott was attached to produce and direct. We haven’t heard much about a Monopoly movie in a while, so it seemed like that project might have been permanently shelved. This week, however, Hasbro and Lionsgate set up a deal indeed to adapt the Monopoly board game into a live action narrative movie. Writer/director Andrew Niccol, who has both Rotten scores (S1mone, In Time, The Host) and Fresh scores (Gattaca, Lord of War, Good Kill) in his filmography, will adapt the screenplay. It’s not yet known if Niccol will also direct Monopoly, or how he will adapt a non-narrative game about real estate moguls in Atlantic City, as a feature film. Will it be a Boardwalk Empire-ish crime drama? Will it be a cerebral drama? A silly kids-centric action-comedy? Will Monopoly film on location in Atlantic City? These are all questions that remain unanswered this week.