This week’s Ketchup includes ten top film development news stories about such projects as James Bond 24, LEGO Batman, Little House on the Prairie, The Purge 3, and new roles for Steve Carell and Bryan Cranston.
This Week’s Top Story
THE VERY, VERY DARK GREY KNIGHT RETURNS: LEGO BATMAN GETS A MOVIE
One of the secret weapons snuggled into the middle of one of 2014’s earliest box office successes, The LEGO Movie, was a depiction of Batman (and other DC superheroes) that harkened back to earlier, less serious depictions. This was appropriate, of course, given that The LEGO Movie was ostensibly a “kids movie,” and not a “grim and gritty” movie (although the movie also gently ribbed Batman about that.) We’ve known for a while that Warner Bros was planning for both a direct sequel to The LEGO Movie, as well as a LEGO Ninjago movie (for September 23, 2016). This week, however, it was learned that Warner Bros now has put a LEGO Batman movie on a fast track for a release in 2017. This Bat-centric LEGO movie might possibly take the May 26 date previously slotted for The Lego Movie 2, with that movie being pushed back to a later date. Will Arnett, who voiced Batman in The LEGO Movie, will return to voice Batman in this spinoff. No story details have been specified yet, but there are already three LEGO Batman video games, as well as an animated movie for Cartoon Network in 2008, so there’s plenty of source material to utilize for LEGO Batman’s feature film solo debut. The LEGO Batman movie will be directed by Chris McKay, the animation supervisor on The LEGO Movie, from a script by Seth Grahame-Smith, author of the horror mashup novels Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 THIS WEEK IN MARVEL RUMORS: IRON MAN 4, AVENGERS 3, AND… SPIDER-MAN?
This could easily have seemed like a big week for Marvel news, if one’s definition of “news” includes rumors and speculation. Having said that, take pretty much everything that follows (except for the Ant-Man news) with a figurative grain of salt. First up, you may have heard that Robert Downey Jr. went on Ellen Degeneres’ TV show (to promote The Judge), and “confirmed” that there will be an Iron Man 4. What made less people’s news feeds was the confirmation a few hours later on David Letterman’s show that, well, “There’s no plans for an Iron Man 4.” Whether there will or won’t be a fourth solo film for Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, it seems fairly certain that he will continue to appear as Iron Man in (other) Marvel movies (at least for a while). That leads us to another hot rumor this week, which concerns who will or won’t be appearing in The Avengers 3, which might be released in 2018. With RDJ, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth each only having one to two movies left on their contracts, there are now rumors that the solution to this will be for The Avengers 3 to leave out pretty much every current member of the team except Iron Man, possibly joined by the various new characters introduced in “Phase 3” (Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and possibly Captain Marvel). The rumor really gets wild after that, conjecturing that this would then lead to a big event movie that ties every element of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Guardians of the Galaxy, and the various ABC and Netflix TV shows. And that leads us to the next hot rumor this week, which is that there might be negotiations going on between Sony and Marvel that would lead to The Amazing Spider-Man connecting with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Now, would that actually lead to Spider-Man appearing in an Avengers movie, or would it just be a loosening of the definitions of which characters can or cannot appear in each studio’s movies? We don’t know what we don’t know. After all of that, the only “real” confirmed Marvel news this week is that Martin Donovan (of Showtime’s Weeds and Homeland) has been cast in next year’s Ant-Man, joining the already cast Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, John Slattery, and Corey Stoll.
#2 JENNIFER JASON LEIGH LANDS LEAD IN QUENTIN TARANTINO’S THE HATEFUL EIGHT
Quentin Tarantino is preparing to start filming the western drama The Hateful Eight, and this week, we learned who finally landed the female lead role, along with the rest of the cast. Jennifer Jason Leigh (Rush, Dolores Claiborne) will play the prisoner Daisy Domergue, who is on her way to being hung for her crimes while a sheriff’s party camps in Wyoming waiting for a storm to pass. Other cast members will include Tarantino veterans Samuel L. Jackson, Zoe Bell, Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, Denis Menochet, Tim Roth, and Kurt Russell. Quentin Tarantino’s search for his Daisy Domergue has lasted for several months now, and the actresses who have been in the running have reportedly included Demi Moore, Hilary Swank, Amber Tamblyn, Michelle Williams, and Robin Wright.
#3 HEISENBERG RETURNS TO THE CARTEL: BRYAN CRANSTON IS… THE INFILTRATOR
After reinventing himself as the iconic Walter White in AMC’s Breaking Bad, the question was always going to linger out there: would Bryan Cranston ever return to anything close like the same subject? We learned this answer this week, as Bryan Cranston has joined the thriller The Infiltrator, based upon an autobiography of the same name by Robert Mazur. Under the cover name of “Bob Musella,” federal agent Robert Mazur invited members of the notorious Colombian cocaine cartel (and their bankers) to a wedding to spring a trap of arrests upon all involved. The Infiltrator will be directed by Brad Furman, whose most successful film was 2011’s The Lincoln Lawyer (which was followed by the not-as-successful 2013 film Runner Runner). Other films that Bryan Cranston has in the works include Kung Fu Panda 3, and the Hollywood black list true story Trumbo.
#4 NEW BOND GIRL: BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR STAR LEA SEYDOUX
French actress Lea Seydoux, who is best known for starring in Blue is the Warmest Color (she was also in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), has reportedly landed a role in the still-untitled 24th James Bond movie. Seydoux joins a cast that already includes Daniel Craig (obviously), Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and Naomie Harris (the other “Bond Girl” we know about for this movie). Skyfall director Sam Mendes is returning for this film, which is already scheduled for release on November 6, 2015.
#5 LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE: MARY, LAURA, CARRIE, GRACE, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE?
For as long as we’ve known that there were plans to make a new movie based upon Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie (based on her own childhood), it’s been known that the 19th century drama was going to have something of an “indie movie” vibe. That notion came because the initial director attached to the project was David Gordon Green, whose filmography includes George Washington, All the Real Girls, Undertow, and Snow Angels. David Gordon Green has since departed Little House on the Prairie, and this week, we found out who will be replacing him, and it’s another “indie” director. Sean Durkin made his feature film directorial debut in 2011 with Martha Marcy May Marlene, and although that movie was female-centric and set in the wilderness… yeah, it’s nothing like Little House on the Prairie, or at least, as we’ve seen that story adapted before. Maybe the new Little House on the Prairie will have a new subplot about a brainwashing personality cult (but hopefully not). In addition to being a novel (and part of a larger series of books), Little House on the Prairie was also a popular 1970s-1980s TV series on NBC starring Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert.
#6 LUKE WILSON TO PLAY NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL
Continuing right along, this was indeed a big week for roles inspired by real life figures. One of the faces that appeared in the news a lot this year was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and in 2015, we’ll see a movie with someone else’s face as Goodell. Luke Wilson (Old School, The Royal Tenenbaums) is now in talks to join the cast of the still-untitled Ridley Scott-produced “NFL concussion” drama starring Will Smith. In addition to Will Smith, the cast will also include Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, Arliss Howard, David Morse, Gugu Mbatha Raw, and Paul Reiser. Peter Landesman, who as a screenwriter worked on this week’s Kill the Messenger, will direct this drama after making his directorial debut on 2013’s Parkland. Casey Affleck also made “true story” news this week by signing on to produce and star in Boston Strong, about the “epic manhunt” following the April, 2013 Boston marathon bombing. Boston Strong was adapted by screenwriters Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy, who previously worked together on The Fighter (also about Boston), from the book of the same title by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge. The director of Boston Strong hasn’t been announced (or possibly even hired) yet.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 STEVE CARELL TO STAR IN PARANOIA THRILLER
The long list of green splotches on RT Tomatometers like Michael Bay’s are so epic and huge that it’s easy to forget that there are other “big” studio directors whose filmographies also sport lots of Rotten scores. Take, for example, Gore Verbinski. When he’s got a new movie out, the trailer might trumpet the fact that he directed The Ring, Rango, and of course, the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie (as well as the two Rotten sequels that followed it). What those trailers are less likely to mention is that Verbinski also directed Mouse Hunt, The Mexican, The Weather Man, and last year’s notorious dud The Lone Ranger. Well, maybe Steve Carell can help Verbinski turn things around. The star of this week’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day has signed on to star in an untitled “paranoid thriller” to be directed by Gore Verbinski. That’s pretty much all we know about this project, except that we can also tell you that it was written by Steve Conrad, whose filmography includes Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, The Pursuit of Happyness, last year’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and… The Weather Man.
#2 THE PURGE 3 TO CONTINUE NEW ANNUAL TRADITION, IN THE SPIRIT OF SAW AND PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
The thing about horror franchises is that because they can be produced relatively inexpensively, and turned around faster than say, big superhero movies, they easily lend themselves to being annual fixtures on studio schedules (until they really start to underperform). In the past, we’ve seen this done (if not always annually, at least quasi-annually) with Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Final Destination, Saw, and Paranormal Activity. With two hits under the franchise’s belt, one of the newer entries into this category appears to be Universal’s The Purge. The Purge: Anarchy may have a Rotten score, but the movie also earned almost $110 million. So, yes, of course, there’s going to be The Purge 3 (or whatever they end up calling it). The third movie will be directed by the same director (James DeMonaco) as The Purge: Anarchy. Universal hasn’t given The Purge 3 a release date in 2015… yet.
#1 SONY ATTEMPTING TO CREATE A CINEMATIC UNIVERSE AROUND… ROBIN HOOD?
Ever since Marvel Studios started proving that this “cinematic universe” idea was really working for them, we’ve heard about other studios considering the same approach for their own concepts. Examples of this include Universal Pictures’ monsters (starting this week with Dracula Untold), Sony’s plans for Amazing Spider-Man spin offs, Warner Bros’ DC Comics adaptations (starting with Man of Steel) and that studio’s six-movie plans for a new King Arthur franchise. If Sony Pictures sees their plans through, we can also add to that list a new series of movies set in medieval England that will start with a movie called Hood. As you might guess from the title, this potential “franchise” will feature Robin Hood and his band of “Merry Men,” some of whom, like Friar Tuck, Little John, and Will Scarlett, would then go on to star in their own movies. Of course, the big difference between this plan and what Marvel did is that Hood would be the “team movie” before the individual characters get their own movies (Marvel did the opposite leading up to The Avengers). For example, if you were listening to the 1974 playlist on Spotify when you were making deals for your studio, you start with The Jailer Man, Sailor Sam, and The County Judge Who Held a Grudge, and THEN, you get them all together for Band on the Run. Anyway, the tone of Hood is being compared to Mission: Impossible and the Fast & Furious movies (because studio publicists never compare their projects to franchises that weren’t successful).
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.