This week’s Ketchup covers seven days from the world of film development news, telling us about what movies are being made by whom, starring whom, etc. Included in the mix this time are titles like Captain America: Civil War and Star Wars Anthology 2, biopics about Jimi Hendrix and Karl Rove, and new roles for Kevin James, Natalie Portman, and Daniel Radcliffe.
Every Friday afternoon, the Weekly Ketchup recaps the top stories of the week before. The downside, however, is that sometimes the week’s biggest story actually breaks after the Weekly Ketchup is published. Such was the case last Friday when the news broke that Josh Trank, the director of Chronicle and this summer’s Fantastic Four, had dropped out of directing the second Star Wars Anthology film. At first glance, this might not seem like such a big deal, but it was certainly received with much speculation by the Internet and social media in general, as such talk quickly spread online. This story from The Hollywood Reporter recapped much of what reportedly happened behind the scenes at both 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm that led up to Trank’s departure from the Star Wars project. This project was also confirmed this week to be a Boba Fett origin story, which raised some eyebrows since a good part of George Lucas’ prequels already seemed to be devoted to telling that story (or at least, when the bounty hunter was a little kid). Presumably, the second Star Wars Anthology film, if it remains a Boba Fett origin story, will tell a much later adventure in the bounty hunter’s development. The second Star Wars Anthology film is scheduled for sometime in 2018, after Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12/18/15), Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One (12/16/16), and Star Wars Episode VIII (title likely to change) (5/26/17).
Last year saw the release of Jimi: All is By My Side, from director John Ridley, but the movie was arguably handicapped by the lack of any songs that Jimi Hendrix actually wrote, such as “Purple Haze,” “If 6 was 9,” or “Foxy Lady.” The reason for that was that the estate of the famed, influential rock guitarist did not reach an agreement with Ridley’s film, holding out for a film that they officially approved. Well, the news broke this week that exactly such an agreement appears to have been made. Acclaimed director Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips, United 93, The Bourne Ultimatum) is now in negotiations with Legendary Pictures to direct a Jimi Hendrix biopic. Legendary has hired screenwriter Scott Silver to start work on the biopic, following his work on the The Fighter and the quasi-Eminem-biopic 8 Mile. The expectation is that the time needed to perfect the script will line up for the Jimi Hendrix project to be Greengrass’ next film after his planned return to the Bourne franchise, which has been scheduled for July 29, 2016.
The science fiction film Ex Machina is one of 2015’s most critically acclaimed genre films, with a Certified Fresh Tomatometer score of 91%. Screenwriter Alex Garland, who made his directorial debut with Ex Machina, isn’t resting on his laurels, as he is already preparing for his next project, which will again be a science fiction film. Natalie Portman is now in early talks with Paramount Pictures to take the lead role in Annihilation, which will be adapted from a novel of the same title by Jeff VanderMeer. Annihilation will tell the story of a team of scientists who venture into a secret zone in the United States where the laws of nature do not apply. The role of Portman’s costar is reportedly being pursued by such actresses as Julianne Moore and Tilda Swinton, but no deals will be made until after Portman signs on for sure. Filming of Annihilation is tentatively expected to start sometime in 2016. (Breaking News: Natalie Portman has also signed with Focus Features to play the young Ruth Bader Ginsberg in the equal rights drama On the Basis of Sex.)
Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan costarred together in the 2013 true story drama about a murder case that happened in the midst of the burgeoning beat poetry and literature movement of New York City in the 1940s. Now, both actors are teaming up again with Kill Your Darlings director John Krokidas for another film based on true stories. Their next subjects, however, will be quite different from the likes of Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Kerouac. Dane DeHaan will play the young Karl Rove and Daniel Radcliffe will play the young Lee Atwater in Young Americans (previously titled College Republicans). The movie will tell the story of a cross-country road trip that the two took together in the 1970s when Karl Rove was running for president of the national College Republicans organization. Amanda Seyfried will costar as another young political type who “who secretly threatens to beat the boys at their own game.” Lee Atwater went on to become the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Karl Rove‘s many accomplishments have included serving as Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush. In other news of independent films based on the true stories of future politicians, the leads in the indie romance Southside with You have been cast. Parker Sawyers, who had small roles in Zero Dark Thirty and Kick-Ass 2, and Tika Sumpter (from TV’s Gossip Girl and One Life to Live) have been cast as the young Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson in the film set in Chicago during the late 1980s. Southside with You will be the directorial debut of screenwriter Richard Tanne.
Two different movies were announced this week that are based upon true stories involving interracial romance. One of these projects is A United Kingdom, which will tell the true story of Prince Seretse Kharma of Botswana, who became an internationally controversial figure in the 1940s when he married Ruth Williams, a British white woman. David Oyelowo (Selma, Lincoln) has been attached to star as the prince for a while, and this week, he was joined by English actress Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), who is now in talks to play Ruth Williams. The couple’s son, Ian Kharma, is now the president of Botswana. A United Kingdom is currently seeking a director, and the hope is for filming to start by late 2015. The other similarly-themed romance that made the news this week is called Loving, taking its title from the influential 1967 civil rights case Loving vs Virginia. Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Exodus: Gods and Kings) and Ruth Negga (Raina from TV’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) have been cast as a Virginia couple who were arrested and sentenced to a year in prison for committing the “crime” of interracial marriage. Loving will be the next film for acclaimed director Jeff Nichols, after this fall’s science fiction film Midnight Special. His previous films have included Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud.
With so many “big, Big, BIG” films in development at Marvel, nearly every week sees multiple stories from the studio. Filming started yesterday on Captain America: Civil War, and so that film had several casting stories this week, mostly involving actors who will be reprising their characters from previous films. It’s frankly probably easier at this point to start focusing on which Marvel characters will not be in Captain America: Civil War (of the Avengers, that appears to be just Hulk and Thor right now). The latest actors to be confirmed for Captain America: Civil War include Paul Bettany (The Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), William Hurt (General Ross), and Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter, AKA Agent 13). A completely new addition this week is Martin Freeman (The Hobbit), whose character is being kept secret for now (you can check out my speculation here). There was also a story this week about the shortlist of directors that Sony is considering for the Spider-Man reboot, and the emphasis seemed to be on comedy/indie directors. The list reportedly includes Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies), Ted Melfi (St. Vincent), Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect), Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite), and the team of John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein, who have the reboot of Vacation coming this summer. Finally, Tom Hardy was quoted this week as saying that he would like to play The Punisher (Frank Castle) for Marvel, but of course, the problem with that is that right now, we don’t know if Marvel plans on doing anything with the Punisher anytime soon. Of course, knowing that Tom Hardy wants the job could make it happen…
A memorable sight gag in L.A. Story involved a seemingly conscious traffic sign, which at one point displayed, “WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO IS DIRECT.” If L.A. Story was remade (or we should say, when it’s remade), the sign might also specify that it wants to direct, write, star, edit, and provide the craft services. Two different stories emerged this week about actors who are planning on becoming directing/starring multi-hyphenates. First off, in the “Louis C.K. directed Pootie Tang?” category is the star of FX’s hit series Louie, the comedian Louis C.K., who has already been a multi-hyphenate for much of his career. Louis C.K. will write, direct, and star in a movie called I’m a Cop, about a volunteer police officer who decides to become a full-time “real” officer following the death of his mother, a highly decorated retired officer herself. Next up, we have Austrian actor Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Big Eyes), who will be making his feature film directorial debut with an adaptation of a true crime story called The Worst Marriage in Georgetown. The movie will be adapted from this story in The New York Times Magazine about a murder case involving a man married to a wealthy woman much, much, much older (44 years) than him. The script for The Worst Marriage in Georgetown was adapted by screenwriter David Auburn (Proof, The Lake House).
There’s something of a growing mini-wave of remakes of movies or shows that prominently featured Tim Curry. A few months ago, we had the remake of Annie, and FOX TV has announced plans for a TV movie remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Hasbro is developing a remake of Clue. We’re still waiting to hear who the new Dr. Frank-n-Furter will be, but this week, we learned who will be wearing the spooky clown makeup of Pennywise in the remake(s) of Stephen King’s IT. And it’s not someone that most people probably ever could have predicted. That’s because Will Poulter is best known for his role in the comedy We’re the Millers (though Poulter was also in Son of Rambow, The Maze Runner, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader). Will Poulter is also significantly younger (22) than Tim Curry was in 1990 when the ABC mini-series was first made (Curry was 44). Of course, if there’s any role where age probably doesn’t matter a whole lot, it’s one where the actor is basically playing a demon with a face covered with clown makeup. New Line Cinema is producing this adaptation of Stephen King’s massive 1,138 page novel as two separate movies, dividing the story into halves based on the ages of the characters (first as children, and then as reunited adults). Both parts of IT will be directed by Cary Fukunaga, who made his debut with Sin Nombre, and is best known for directing season 1 of HBO’s True Detective. Will Poulter won the role of Pennywise through an audition, after Fukunaga and New Line Cinema had first considered older actors like Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom) and Mark Rylance, who is currently working with Steven Spielberg as the title character in 2016’s The BFG. New Line Cinema hasn’t yet announced a release date for IT Part 1, but it’s speculated that it could be one of the untitled horror films New Line has announced for 2016.
Now that Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is wrapped and in theaters (to an extremely Rotten Tomatometer score of just 6%), Kevin James is preparing for his next “comedy.” James has signed to star in the spy comedy The True Memoirs of an International Assassin, as “a mild-mannered accountant and would-be author who is mistaken for a killer-for-hire when his fictional novel about an international assassin is published as a true story.” The True Memoirs of an International Assassin will be directed by Jeff Wadlow, who has previously directed three movies, none of which received Tomatometer scores above 30% (Cry Wolf, Never Back Down, and Kick-Ass 2). If there’s a bright side to this story, it’s that back in 2009, the script by Jeff Morris made it to the Black List of Unproduced Screenplays, in the same year that The Social Network was #2 on the list, Prisoners was #4, and Cedar Rapids was #5. The (continuing) bad news? The True Memoirs of an International Assassin was indeed on the list, but way, way, way down the list… at #68.
If there’s a 21st century successor to the legacy of prolific spoof star Leslie Nielsen (R.I.P. 1926-2010), it might just end up being Marlon Wayans. Wayans’ list of spoof movies has thus far included Don’t Be a Menace to South Central…, Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, Dance Flick, A Haunted House, and A Haunted House 2. The bad news is that in the last 20 years, Marlon Wayans has only starred in two movies with Fresh ratings, and neither (Requiem for a Dream and The Heat) was a spoof comedy. This week, we learned that Marlon Wayans is teaming up once again with the director and producer behind the two Haunted House movies for another spoof movie, based on one of this year’s early hits. Wayans, producer Rick Alvarez, and director Mike Tiddes are the creative trio behind Fifty Shades of Black, a spoof of the E.L. James novel and movie, Fifty Shades of Grey. About the project, Wayans said, “Sex and comedy go hand-in-hand, and I’m looking forward to having fun with this project. It’s amazing when a film of this caliber comes along begging to be made fun of. I’m really happy to be doing what I love with people I love to do it with. That double entendre was intentional.” You know what they say about jokes that you have to explain… Fifty Shades of Black is aiming for a theatrical release in early 2016.