This week’s Ketchup covers movie development news stories about such movies as My Little Pony, X-Men: Apocalypse, a Cabin Fever remake, and a sequel for indie classic Welcome to the Dollhouse.
This Week’s Top Story
MY LITTLE PONY MOVIE IN 2017
There’s been a lot of talk in the press lately about an upcoming surge in superhero movies. Although it pales in comparison, the argument could also be made that “toy movies” are also on an upswing. Warner Bros recently confirmed plans for annual LEGO movies for 2016, 2017, and 2018. New sequels in the G.I. Joe and Transformers franchises are planned. New movies based on Monster High (10/7/16), Trolls (11/4/16), Barbie, Masters of the Universe, and View-Master are also all on the way or in development. One of the key companies behind this mini-trend is Hasbro (home to G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Ouija). This week, it was revealed that another toy franchise Hasbro is now developing as an animated movie is My Little Pony, for release in 2017. In addition to toys, My Little Pony has also been adapted as TV specials, an animated DTV movie, and four different animated TV shows. The animated My Little Pony movie will be produced by a new company called Allspark Pictures, which will be making its feature film debut with the Jem and the Holograms movie scheduled for October 23, 2015.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 TOM HARDY WANTED FOR TITLE VILLAIN IN X-MEN: APOCALYPSE
Most actors who dip their toe into the superhero movie water are “one and done,” at least one character. There are obviously examples, however, of actors who have played more than one character, with the most famous example being Chris Evans, who played Human Torch in two Fantastic Four movies before going on to also be Marvel’s Captain America. If various people in Hollywood have their way, Tom Hardy is another actor who will have more than play more than just Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Last week, there was a story that Hardy was wanted by Warner Bros to star in the super villain ensemble Suicide Squad (and he’s also one of the many talked about for Doctor Strange). And now, this week, the news came out that 20th Century Fox is hoping to recruit Tom Hardy to play the title villain in X-Men: Apocalypse (5/27/16). Of course, that doesn’t mean that talks have officially started between Hardy and Fox yet, and it definitely doesn’t mean at this point that Hardy will take the role. Apocalypse is one of those comic book villains who is less famous to mainstream audiences (now), but the gist is that Apocalypse is a mutant so powerful that he’s existed for thousands of years. We got our first glimpse at the young Apocalypse during the credits of this year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.
#2 STEVE CARELL TO BE SURROUNDED BY IDIOTS IN I.Q. 83
Some movies take a really, really, long time to get made. One such example is an adaptation of the Arthur Herzog novel I.Q. 83, which has been in development at first DreamWorks, and then Paramount, since the mid-1990s. This week, the project got a new breath of fresh air as Steve Carell is now attached to star, with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman hired to do a page 1 rewrite. Although Charlie Kaufman’s career has slowed down a bit in recent years, his past filmography as screenwriter includes Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Steve Carell will star in I.Q. 83 as a scientist responsible for an outbreak which causes the afflicted to become drastically less intelligent, and it’s a race against time to find a cure as the scientist feels himself starting to also lose his intelligence. Anyone who’s seen Steve Carell play Brick Tamland can sort of guess what that might look like.
#3 THIS WEEK IN DC COMICS: WONDER WOMAN, SUICIDE SQUAD
Now that Warner Bros and DC Comics have confirmed plans for ten movies in the five years from 2016 to 2020, we can probably expect the number of news stories about those various films to increase in the months to come. One of the stories that made the cycle this week was really a tiny mention, but many writers took it and ran. The entirety of the “story” came to us in just the nine words that make up, “seeking a female helmer for Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.” That was enough, however, for various sites to start running stories listing the various female directors who could direct a movie like Wonder Woman, and invariably, most of these stories started and ended with Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, The Hurt Locker). Other possibilities include Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Red Riding Hood), Lexi Alexander (Punisher: War Zone), Patty Jenkins (Monster), Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), and actresses-turned-directors Jodie Foster and Angelina Jolie. Late this week, there was also a story about Warner Bros possibly being in talks with Jesse Eisenberg about reprising his upcoming role as Lex Luthor in the supervillain ensemble movie Suicide Squad. If this report pans out, it will represent a significant shift from the comics. Although there have been over a hundred different villains who have been members of Suicide Squad in the comics, Lex Luthor wasn’t one of them.
#4 GRETA GERWIG MIGHT STAR IN WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE SEQUEL
One of the trends in cinema that will always be remembered historically about the 1990s is that it was a time when a new generation of “indie” filmmakers burst onto the scene (some of whom are now industry veterans and Academy Award winners). One of the most polarizing films (and filmmakers) from right in the middle of the decade was Welcome to the Dollhouse, from director Todd Solondz. Now, as the 20th anniversary of Welcome to the Dollhouse looms in 2015, we learned this week that Todd Solondz is preparing for a (sort of) sequel called Weiner Dog. The film will feature different stories and characters, all of whom are connected to each other by a dachshund, hence the title. One of those characters will be Dawn “Weiner Dog” Weiner, who was played by Heather Matarazzo in the first film. In this sequel, the character will be played by new indie sweetheart Greta Gerwig (she’s in talks), who is quite available this autumn after CBS decided not to move forward with her TV show pilot, the sequel How I Met Your Dad. Julie Delpy is also in talks for a role in Weiner Dog, and it’s not currently known if her character also appeared in Welcome to the Dollhouse.
#5 ETHAN HAWKE TO STAR IN CHET BAKER BIOPIC BORN TO BE BLUE
Another film project that has been talked about since the 1990s (see I.Q. 83) is the notion of a biopic about the life of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, who struggled for decades with drug addiction. This week, we learned that just such a movie is finally happening, under the title Born to be Blue. Ethan Hawke, who does bear a resemblance to Chet Baker, will star in the musical biopic, which is currently filming in London. Born to be Blue will be directed by Robert Budreau, and the cast also includes Carmen Ejogo (The Purge: Anarchy) and Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica).
#6 WALT DISNEY PICTURES HAS GIVEN UP ON JOHN CARTER OF MARS
Even people who don’t follow movies that closely knew that in 2012, John Carter was one of the biggest flops of the year, to the degree that the film became a punchline. With a 51% Tomatometer score, John Carter was clearly a Rotten film, but the movie has its fans, and more importantly to why this particular story is a “Fresh Development,” the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs have their fans. They’ve had their fans for a really long time, with elements of Burroughs’ “Barsoom” novels arguably having influenced later franchises such as Superman, Star Wars, and Avatar. Fans frustrated with the 2012 movie should be happy to hear, therefore, that the rights to the John Carter of Mars franchise are leaving Walt Disney Pictures, and reverting back to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. The company, which is currently working with Warner Bros on a new Tarzan film for 2016, can now proceed with finding a new studio home for future John Carter of Mars movies. (Presumably without Taylor Kitsch or Antonio Sabato Jr.)
#7 CHLOE GRACE MORETZ TO STAR IN YA ADAPTATION THE 5TH WAVE
Even though the hits (The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner) are still joined by the misses (The Host, Beautiful Creatures, Vampire Academy, The Giver), Hollywood is not yet giving up on YA novel adaptations. It’s pretty easy to see why: most of these movies are produced relatively cheaply, so there’s a huge upside if the movie succeeds. Columbia Pictures has started filming an adaptation of the Rick Yancey novel The 5th Wave, directed by J. Blakeson (The Disappearance of Alice Creed). Chloe Grace Moretz stars in the apocalyptic science fiction action thriller set in the days after four increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of the Earth’s population wiped out, as the survivors prepare for what is expected to be the fifth and final wave of attacks. The cast also includes Ron Livingston and Liev Schreiber. Sony Pictures has scheduled The 5th Wave for release in January of 2016.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#2 20TH CENTURY FOX CONSIDERING A QUICKSILVER SOLO MOVIE?
As the rights to various Marvel Comics characters continue to be spread across movies produced by Marvel Studios, Sony, and 20th Century Fox, one of the most complicated situations concerns the super speedster Quicksilver. Even as this week saw the first release of a trailer for next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, where Quicksilver will be played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, we heard news about that other Quicksilver. You see, Quicksilver also appeared prominently in a sequence in X-Men: Days of Future Past where he helps in the rescue of Magneto (who he doesn’t realize is actually his father). 20th Century Fox has the rights to Quicksilver as the son of Magneto, and Marvel Studios has the rights to Quicksilver as the brother of Scarlet Witch, and as a member of the Avengers. Normally, you don’t see big news stories coming from second unit directors, but that’s exactly what seemed to happen this week. Stuntman-turned-second-unit-director Brian Smrz (not having vowels in your last name, now that’s a stunt) was quoted this week talking about the possibility of Quicksilver (the Fox version) getting his own solo movie. After talking about X-Men: Days of Future Past, and confirming that Quicksilver will be in X-Men: Apocalypse, Smrz said, “We talked about Quicksilver before, I’d love to do a Quicksilver as a solo film because there’s a lot to enjoy with that character.” The reason this is a “Rotten Idea” is that it comes so soon after recent stories about growing tension between Marvel Comics and 20th Century Fox, the studio that has the rights to Fantastic Four and X-Men movies. If those stories are true, is 20th Century Fox planning on upping the stakes by making a Quicksilver movie? And if they do, what does that mean for Marvel’s own plans for the character?
#1 CABIN FEVER TO GET A WORD-FOR-WORD REMAKE (REMEMBER PSYCHO?)
As much as people grouse about remakes and reboots, a concept that has a particularly bad reputation is the “exact remake,” mostly because one of the few times that Hollywood ever attempted it in recent memory was Gus Van Sant’s Psycho. Of course, Alfred Hitchcock is Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho is Psycho, and well, Eli Roth and Cabin Fever are nowhere close to being either. That’s right, the news came out this week that Eli Roth, the director of the 2002 horror film Cabin Fever, is now producing a new remake of Cabin Fever, to be directed using the exact same script as he used in 2002. The new Cabin Fever will have the exact same words and premise, but it will be directed by production-designer-turned-director Travis Zariwny (Scavengers), and feature a new cast that includes Gage Golightly (Teen Wolf), Dustin Ingram (Paranormal Activity 3), Nadine Crocker, Matthew Daddario, and Samuel Davis. Cabin Fever tells the story of what happens when a group of young people vacationing at a cabin in the woods come in contact with a “flesh eating” virus/bacteria. (Short version: they freak out.) If this word-for-word remake of a movie from 2002 is successful, remakes of Ouija and John Wick can’t be far off.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.