This week’s Ketchup brings you seven days’ worth of film development news stories, including news about Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, The Flash, Gremlins, Need for Speed 2, Disney’s live-action Pinocchio, and new roles for Vin Diesel, Ryan Gosling, Daniel Radcliffe, and Chris Tucker.
Ever since Ryan Gosling first emerged as a true grown up movie star, the question has lingered out there as to when he would take a break from indie movies and return home to the Mouse House where he got his start. And we’re not talking about something like Remember the Titans, but a full-on, unashamedly “Disney” Disney movie. Well, this week, we finally got the answer, as Ryan Gosling is teaming up with director Guillermo del Toro on his long-in-development Disney attraction adaptation, Haunted Mansion. The timing of the movement forward on Haunted Mansion is interesting, as GDT currently has another ghost/haunted house project, Crimson Peak, coming to theaters later this year (10/16/15). One would have to guess that del Toro’s Haunted Mansion will feel like a more family-friendly take on the spooky scares we will see in Crimson Peak.
Before this week, it’s likely that only the most avid followers of film development news were aware of Life of Pi/Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee‘s HFR Iraq War project Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. The lead is a newcomer named Joe Alwyn, and he was known to be supported by Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, and Steve Martin, but in most news cycles, this project has been somewhat buried “below the fold,” as we say in the world of pubishing. That arguably changed this week with the news that Vin Diesel, hot off Furious 7, along with not-really-prolific actor Chris Tucker, are both in talks for supporting roles. Vin Diesel will play one of the soldiers in the war movie, and Chris Tucker will play a Hollywood producer interested in turning their story into a big time movie. Possibly in HFR.
One of the most consistent themes of the Srping of 2015 has been Walt Disney Pictures’ plans for live action adaptations of their classic animated features. Just last week, our top story concerned such plans for Mulan and Winnie the Pooh. One of the remaining popular classics that hadn’t yet been announced before this week was their second film ever, Pinocchio (1940). Well, we can now cross that one off the list, because Disney has hired formerly-indie screenwriter/director Peter Hedges (Dan in Real Life, Pieces of April) to do exactly that. Much like how there are two adaptations of The Jungle Book coming (Disney’s on 4/15/16, Warner Bros’ Jungle Book: Origins on 10/6/17), Disney’s Pinocchio plans are not the only ones. Guillermo del Toro has also been developing a stop-motion Pinocchio for a few years now.
As one of the most successful franchises of the last 15 years of video gaming, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a movie would eventually spring out of Grand Theft Auto. It’s probably more surprising that this hasn’t happened yet. Or maybe what’s really surprising is that the star of Grand Theft Auto will be Daniel Radcliffe, AKA Harry Potter. Radcliffe is in talks to star in Grand Theft Auto as the video game franchise’s cocreator Sam Houser of Rockstar Games, in a BBC Films feature film about Houser’s battles with Miami lawyer Jack Thompson. The role hasn’t been cast yet for Jack Thompson, whose crusade against violence in video games followed previous censorship efforts against movies and rap music. The Grand Theft Auto movie (which may be retitled to Rockstar Games) is based upon the David Kushner non-fiction book, Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto. In other video game movie news, the 2014-2015 indie point-and-click horror-adventure series Five Nights at Freddy’s is now in development as a movie. The series about animatronic bears at a Chuck-E-Cheese-ish pizza chain on a murderous rampage at night is being produced by Seth Grahame-Smith, the writer best known for Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Five years ago, in 2010, Stephen King fans were excited to hear about the ambitious plans that director Ron Howard had for a multiple-stage adaptation of the series The Dark Tower. The plan at that time was for Universal Pictures to produce a trilogy of big-budget feature films, with HBO at the same time producing a TV series that would fill in other stories from elsewhere in the extended epic. Money issues motivated Universal to drop out, and then the projects were at Warner Bros, and then the same thing happened. Well, perhaps the third studio will be the charm, because Sony Pictures, as part of their continuing search for new franchises, has now boarded the Dark Tower bandwagon. Ron Howard is no longer attached to direct, however, with the Fringe team of Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner reportedly working on the first film’s script.
We’re now several months after Warner Bros’ and DC Comics’ big announcement last year about their plans stretching to 2020 about movies for most of the members of their Justice League (and that team’s first movies). What we were lacking before this week was any sort of hint about what directors might be joining the likes of Zack Snyder and David Ayer in the growing DC Comics Cinematic Universe. Well, in just seven days, we started to learn exactly that. First up, there’s The Flash (3/23/18), which will be following the success of the TV show version on The CW. We now know that the team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are working as writers on a story treatment for The Flash, which Ezra Miller is attached to star in. Their involvement is especially interesting, because Lord and Miller are known for their comedic work on the 21 Jump Street franchise and The LEGO Movie, which is arguably a departure from the tone of Man of Steel. We also heard this week that director James Wan, who has worked on the Saw franchise and this week’s Furious 7, is the “studio’s choice” to direct Aquaman (7/27/18), though no talks have yet started. Finally, there was a rumor this week about another set of directors, and this time, it was Chad Stahelski and David Leith, of last year’s John Wick. The current story is that WB/DC have their eye on the duo, although what movie exactly that might be, is unknown. In addition to The Flash and Aquaman, directors are still needed for Shazam, Cyborg, and Green Lantern. Additionally, there are also rumors online now about WB/DC possibly developing a solo movie for Red Hood, AKA one of Batman’s former Robin partners (whose story sort of mirrors that of the Winter Soldier over at Marvel).
There sure were a lot of unconfirmed rumors this week. One of them involves one of Marvel’s farther afield movies, Black Panther (7/6/18). Although that movie is over three years away, we’ve already heard plenty of hints that the character will actually be featured first in next year’s Captain America: Civil War (5/6/16). And that’s what leads us to the rumor this week that Ghostbusters star Ernie Hudson is working out and reading up on Black Panther, in preparation for playing King T’Chaka, the father of T’Challa, to be played by the already cast Chadwick Boseman. Strictly speaking, T’Chaka is also Black Panther, as that is a title given to the leaders of that Wakandan tribe, T’Chaka being the predecessor of T’Challa of the Avengers (T’Chaka was not a member of the Avengers). What gives the Ernie Hudson rumor some weight is that filming of Captain America: Civil War starts soon, so if there’s going to be a T’Chaka in the movie, well, someone has to be cast as the character. This news also potentially puts Ernie Hudson in theaters next summer two months before the Ghostbusters reboot, which he has been vocal about in the past. And in other Marvel news, it was confirmed this week that the two parts of Avengers: Infinity War (5/4/18 and 5/3/19) will be a reunion for the directors and writers of both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. All four of those movies were/will be directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, working from scripts by the team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
Some movies take so long to get made that they can actually predate movies from the 1990s that are themselves in development to get remade again (specifically, we’re thinking of The Mummy). Another monster movie classic that has been in varying degrees of development is The Creature from the Black Lagoon. That remake actually dates all the way back to the early 1980s, when then-red-hot John Landis was hoping to produce a version directed by Jack Arnold, who directed the original 1954 movie. The Black Lagoon remake has taken various forms in the 30+ years since (really far more than we can detail here). Well, this week, the Black Lagoon remake “surfaced” again with a rumor that Scarlett Johansson has been offered the lead role (as a scientist, not the Creature, though that could be on this side of awesome). If this movie ever does finally happen, it will be part of Universal’s struggling (following the disappointing 23% Rotten bestowed upon Dracula Untold) plans for reboots of their “Classic Universal Monsters.” In similar territory this week, we learned that Warner Bros is still pursuing plans for a Gremlins remake, and that remake specialist screenwriter Carl Ellsworth has been hired to work on precisely that. Ellsworth’s previous remakes have included Red Dawn and The Last House on the Left (and Ellsworth also has the Goosebumps movie with Jack Black coming out on 10/16/15).
Although we’re now 15 years into another century, Hollywood’s remake frenzy has for the most part avoided the 1990s. That may soon change, however, since today’s 20/30-somethings grew up in that decade. One of the hot trends of the late 1990s was the “teen comedy” wave, evidenced by such popular titles as Clueless, American Pie, Can’t Hardly Wait, Good Burger, and 10 Things I Hate About You. The reasonably budgeted teen movie (like romantic comedies and non-Oscar-Bait-dramas) is nearly literally the sort of movie they don’t make anymore, but this story suggests that at least someone is considering changing that. The Weinstein Company and Miramax are partnering on a remake of the 1999 teen romantic comedy She’s All That, which starred Freddie Prinze Jr and Rachael Leigh Cook, with supporting roles for Matthew Lillard, Anna Paquin, and the late Paul Walker. The premise of She’s All That is nearly a remake of Pygmalion, as a teen boy is challenged to turn a girl who wears glasses and overalls into a “hot girl” who, in a shocking twist, does not wear glasses or overalls. She’s All That is basically the teen comedy version of Clark Kent turning into Superman. The remake will be directed by Kenny Leon, whose previous TV work has included the 2002 adaptation of A Raisin the Sun, and a 2012 remake of Steel Magnolias, starring Queen Latifah. Spike Lee’s wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, is also producing the She’s All That remake, which might this time feature an African-American cast. The original She’s All That has a Rotten Tomatometer score of 38%.
As the Chinese moviegoing audience continues to grow each year, so grows its unpredictable influence on the industry. For example, Transformers: Age of Extinction was the #7 movie of the year 2014 here, but because of the $846 million that film earned overseas, it was the #1 movie of 2014 in worldwide box office. An even more severe example of the box office disparity between these two markets is last year’s racing videogame adaptation Need for Speed. That movie starring Aaron Paul earned only $43.6 million domestically (and was a critical bomb with just 22% on the Tomatometer), but over $200 million worldwide, with $65 million of that coming from China. And so, an alliance of Chinese producers and financial partners are teaming up with Electronic Arts to develop a Need for Speed sequel. If a deal can be reached with DreamWorks, the sequel would be filmed primarily in China, and feature several Chinese actors and actresses. It’s not yet known if Aaron Paul (from TV’s Breaking Bad) would also return for the sequel. In similar news, the China Film Group is partnering with Paramount Pictures on a fantasy-action movie about Marco Polo, with Hayden Christensen (of the Star Wars prequels) starring as the Venetian merchant who had real life adventures in China in the 13th century. This will be Hayden Christensen’s first studio movie in five years since the 2010 thriller Takers.