The dog days of August movie development news continued with another slow seven-day cycle. Thankfully, the lack of news wasn’t Hollywood’s cue for another repeat of past weeks, with news mostly dominated by Rotten Ideas. Included this time around are stories about Pixar, a possible new movie for the stars of Resident Evil and Underworld, and new roles for Ben Affleck, Djimon Hounsou, Johnny Knoxville and Patton Oswalt.
This Week’s Top Story
PIXAR REVEALS DETAILS ABOUT NEW MOVIES FOR 2013 AND 2014
The movies that Pixar plans on releasing on November 27, 2013 and May 20, 2014 may still not have official titles. However, this past weekend at the D23 Expo, Pixar and Disney announced what the two movies are generally about. The November, 2013 movie will mark the solo directorial debut of Bob Peterson, who codirected Up. The story will be set in an alternate reality where that asteriod millions of years ago never wiped out the dinosaurs, and shows how modern humans and dinosaurs live together. The May, 2014 movie will be directed by Pete Docter, who was the other director of Up, and who also co-directed Monsters, Inc. Docter’s film will take audiences into the world of the human mind. What exactly that means, however, is still left up to your imagination, except there are reports that it involves how our minds come up with original ideas. That mysterious script is being written by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine). Before The Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs and The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside the Mind, Pixar’s #13 and #14 films will be the fantasy Brave on June 12, 2012 and the sequel Monsters University on June 21, 2013.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 BEN AFFLECK HAS A FIRST PERSON SHOOTER IN HIS LINE OF SIGHT
Ben Affleck is about to begin filming Argo, his third film as director, and he is already in talks with Warner Bros and producer Joel Silver for his fouth film as director, which he will also star in. Line of Sight tells the story of “an elite commando squad transporting cargo while dealing with a global threat,” which is a fairly generic premise. However, the twist is that the film will be told from the first person perspective in the style of a first-person-shooter video game. This style has been tried in movies in the past (such as the Doom movie), but potentially not for as long as this film is aiming for. Since Affleck will be himself playing that main character, one has to wonder if the idea is that Affleck will actually hold the camera himself while performing in the scenes. The latest draft of Line of Sight was written by Peter O’Brien, who wrote the Halo: Reach video game for the XBox 360.
#2 THE GHOSTS OF R.I.P.D. ASSUME THEIR SURPRISING MORTAL FORMS
Universal Pictures’ adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics title R.I.P.D. may not be scheduled for release until June 28, 2013, but filming is starting soon, so casting continues. R.I.P.D. is the story of a recently deceased cop (Ryan Reynolds) who finds himself partnered with a lawman from the Old West (Jeff Bridges) as part of a supernatural police force to fight “spirits unready to depart this world.” However, since they themselves are ghosts, the cops need human bodies to manifest themselves in, and this week, we found out exactly who will be playing those mortal avatars. Jeff Bridges’ Earthly form will be played by Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated lingerie/swimsuit model Marisa Miller. Ryan Reynolds’ mortal form, AKA “Grandpa Chen,” will be played by veteran character actor James Hong (Blade Runner, Big Trouble in Little China). Mary-Louise Parker (Showtime’s Weeds) will play the woman in charge of the R.I.P.D. That role was reportedly originally conceived for Jodie Foster, who eventually passed on the part. Mike O’Malley from TV’s Glee will also play a ghost in R.I.P.D. and Kevin Bacon has already been cast as the film’s main villain. Robert Schwentke (Red, Flightplan, The Time Traveler’s Wife) will be directing R.I.P.D. from a script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, the writing team behind Aeon Flux and Crazy/Beautiful.
#3 UNIVERSAL PICTURES SHELVES PLANS FOR MOVIES ABOUT OUIJA BOARDS AND FAIRIES
Every week brings news about far more movies than are actually released in a given week. Therefore, it only makes sense that some of the announced films will eventually be shelved and never actually produced. This week, Universal Pictures demonstrated that by withdrawing from two of the high profile films it had previously been developing. First up was Universal’s collaboration with Hasbro on an a film inspired by the popular Ouija brand of “spirit boards” that some people believe allow for communication with spirits from the afterlife. Ouija was to be directed by McG (Terminator: Salvation, Charlie’s Angels) and produced by Michael Bay, who has been paid a $5 million penalty by Universal Pictures as part of their abandoning the project. Universal continues to develop movies based on Hasbro’s Candy Land and Stretch Armstrong, and of course, the studio has already produced a Battleship movie for next summer. The Ouija news was followed by the revelation that Universal is also stopping development of a movie based upon the Melissa Marr young adult novel Wicked Lovely. The novel is about a teen girl with the ability to see the invisible fairies that live all around us, which leads her to becoming in a human/fairie/human romantic triangle (of course). Wicked Lovely was to have been directed by Mary Harron (American Psycho) from a script by Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands). Although Universal is now out of the picture, the producers of both Ouija and Wicked Lovely are now free to attempt to set the projects up elsewhere. Universal abandoning Ouija and Wicked Lovely follows the news earlier this year of Universal dropping out of Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness and Ron Howard’s adaptation of The Dark Tower. These stories are being labelled “Fresh Developments” because they seem like smart decisions for Universal.
#4 KNOXVILLE AND OSWALT IN SCOUTING SIBLING COMEDY
Johnny Knoxville (Jackass) and Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille) have signed to star together in a currently untitled comedy, formerly known as Scout Master. Knoxville and Oswalt will play bickering brothers who agree to honor their sick father’s wishes by taking a troop of Boy Scouts out on a camping trip. Independent director Todd Rohal (The Guatemalan Handshake) will direct the untitled comedy from his own script. Rob Riggle (The Daily Show), Maura Tierney (ER) and comedian-turned-actor Patrice O’Neal (The Office) also have supporting roles. This untitled comedy is being produced by Big Beach Films, which also produced this weekend’s new comedy Our Idiot Brother.
#5 BUILDING THE GREAT WALL
The producers behind Legendary Entertainment (Watchmen, The Dark Knight) are launching a new company called Legendary East in Hong Kong to focus on producing movies in Asia for a worldwide audience. Legendary East’s first production will be The Great Wall, about the the creation of (and motivations behind) China’s most famous landmark. Hollywood director Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond, The Siege) will direct The Great Wall, and he’ll cowrite along with his longtime writing and producing partner Marshall Herskovitz (cowriter of The Last Samurai, Love and Other Drugs). The Great Wall will be produced in China, and Legendary’s base studio Warner Bros will handle distribution in the United States and other parts of the world other than Asia.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 THE LAST EXORCISM JOINS FINAL DESTINATION IN THE IRONIC HORROR FRANCHISE TITLE CLUB
The producers of the 2010 horror hit The Last Exorcism have hired indie writer/director Damien Chazelle (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench) to write a sequel. Not much else is known about this sequel, but certain events in the first film suggest that this movie could possibly work better as a prequel. The original film was a “found footage” movie about an evangelical preacher who agrees to perform an exorcism in an effort to show that his work is a fraud, but the results appear to be quite the opposite. Damien Chazelle will have to work quickly, as Studio Canal expects to start filming the sequel this fall. There’s no word yet as to whether any of the original cast will return for this prequel/sequel/whatever-it-ends-up-being. The idea of a sequel to The Last Exorcism gets a Rotten Idea label this week, because unless it’s actually a prequel, its existence makes the first movie’s title seem a little silly.
#3 WILL TWO BIG UNDEAD FRANCHISE STARS FINALLY MEET IN DANGER GIRL?
A movie based upon the Wildstorm comic book series Danger Girl has been in development in Hollywood pretty much ever since the series first debuted in 1998. Danger Girl tells the story of a group of female adventurers whose globetrotting adventures combine elements borrowing from movies like Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider and James Bond. Production company Benderspink (The Butterfly Effect, The Ruins) is continuing to try to get Danger Girl going, and now they reportedly have their three female stars attached: Milla Jovovich, Kate Beckinsale and Sofia Vergara (Modern Family). The teaming up of Jovovich and Beckinsale is particularly interesting because both actresses are married to directors with whom they frequently work on a movie franchise involving the undead (Resident Evil and Underworld, respectively). What is not currently known is who will be directing this hypothetical Danger Girl movie, or what writers wrote the latest draft of the script (there have probably been many writers in the projects over ten year history). Danger Girl is a borderline Rotten Idea because if the movie’s anything like the comic book, it will mostly be about seeing hot looking ladies in ridiculous action sequences (and outfits). Not that there’s anything wrong with that, per se, but it takes more that that to make a decent movie.
#2 DJIMON HOUNSOU BECOMES THE ANGEL OF DEATH
Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Blood Diamond) has signed with Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros to be the third cast member of their film adaptation of John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. Hounsou, who will portray Abdiel, the Angel of Death, joins the already cast Bradley Cooper and relative newcomer Benjamin Walker (the star of the upcoming Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), who will be playing Lucifer and the Archangel Michael, respectively. Although John Milton’s poem is also very much about the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, this film is described as being more about the war between the angels. Emphasis will be on aerial angel combat, which will be presented to audiences in the eye-popping 3D that they are getting used to sometimes paying for. Paradise Lost will be directed by Alex Proyas (Knowing, I, Robot, The Crow) from a script that now has five different writers listed at the IMDb. Paradise Lost is a borderline Rotten Idea mostly because it’s sounding more and more like the movie equivalent of the recent video game Dante’s Inferno.
#1 REMAKE FEVER CREEPS INTO THE 1990S WITH FLATLINERS
Hollywood’s current obsession with remaking the genre hits of the 1980s crept forward slightly this week. Columbia Pictures is now developing a remake of the quasi-supernatural drama Flatliners, which was technically released in 1990, and not the 1980s. The original Flatliners had a cast filled with emerging stars that included Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherlands, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt. Flatliners was the story of a group of medical students collaborating on experiments involving near-death experiences. As they begin to experiment on themselves, the students start to have experiences that make them question what is real and what is imagined. Columbia Pictures has hired screenwriter Ben Ripley for this remake project, who, in addition to writing this year’s Source Code, also wrote the direct-to-video sequels Species III and Species: The Awakening. Although Flatliners is far from a classic of the genre, it doesn’t exactly need to be remade either. And that’s why it’s the Most Rotten Idea of the Week.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.