This week’s Ketchup recaps the last seven days from the world of film development, including news stories for titles like Bloodshot, Furious 8, Spider-Man (two different versions), and Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One.
“Many Bothans died to bring us this information.” It turns out that by the end of 2016, we’re going to find out if Mon Mothma even knew what she was talking about. The reason for that is that on Sunday, at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, the world finally found out what that mysterious Rogue One movie is actually about. The teaser, which was online for a while, has since been pulled, but you can read most of what it revealed right here. The non-episode movies previously called “spinoffs” are now grouped together as parts of the Star Wars Anthology franchise, and all of that will start with Rogue One when it is released on December 16th, 2016. The official synopsis for Rogue One is brief, but exact: “A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans.” We also learned that DP Greig Fraser worked on Zero Dark Thirty, and VFX Supervisor Neil Corbud worked on Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down, and that these war movies should absolutely be interpreted as guideposts for the sort of film Rogue One is aiming to be. The weekend’s big reveal was also followed by stories that suggest that the already cast Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) and Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom) might be joined by Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games). It’s not yet known if any of these actors will play Bothans.
This week, there were two big stories involving Spider-Man on the big screen, and although we already sort of knew about both movies, taken together, they’re still pretty big reveals. At the CinemaCon event in Las Vegas, Sony Pictures announced that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the team behind The LEGO Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and 21 Jump Street, will be writing and producing the animated Spider-Man which Sony has scheduled for July 20, 2018. This animated Spider-Man will be set in its own separate continuity from Marvel Studios’ live-action movies and the live-action Spider-Man movie scheduled a year earlier on July 28, 2017. Basically, within three years, we’re going to have two different Spider-Man movie franchises (presuming Sony’s animated movie is likely to get its own sequels). As for the live-action teenage reboot with Marvel Studios, a new shortlist of young actors was revealed this week. The five actors Sony and Marvel are reportedly considering are: 18-year-olds Asa Butterfield (Hugo, Ender’s Game), Tom Holland (The Impossible), and Liam James (The Way Way Back), 19-year-old Timothee Chalamet (Finn from Showtime’s Homeland), and 20-year-old Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars). Butterfield and Holland are British, Chalamet and Wolff are American, and Liam James is Canadian.
For the last few weeks as Furious 7 has raced across the world earning ridiculous box office numbers, Universal Pictures has played it coyly about plans for an eighth movie, even though it was pretty obvious it would happen. As it turns out, Universal was saving the news for this week’s CinemaCon, where Vin Diesel took the stage to announce that Furious 8 will be released on April 14, 2017. That’s about all we know right now, but it wasn’t the only big release date news from Universal this week. The videogame adaptation Warcraft (from Legendary Pictures and director Duncan Jones) has been shifted back from next March to June 10, 2016, and the sequel Pacific Rim 2 has also been moved back to August 8, 2017 (from April, 2017). Universal Pictures is also pushing back its plans for a new “cinematic universe” for its classic monster movies. Those plans will now start with a reboot of The Mummy on March 24, 2017 (instead of in June, 2016), which will be followed by an untitled monster movie on March 30, 2018 (instead of on April 21, 2017, making room for Furious 8).
Although Marvel and DC have been the “big two” for decades now, they are far from the only comic book companies with superhero titles (others include Image, Top Cow, Dynamite, and Dark Horse). Other companies have tried over the years to build their own “universes” of connected titles as well, although they sometimes don’t stick together (such as when creators leave the company, taking their heroes with them). One of the pubishers to have more consistent success with that concept is Valiant Comics, home to such titles as Archer & Armstrong, Doctor Solar, Magnus: Robot Fighter, Ninjak, Turok, and X-O Manowar. Valiant Comics is now actively trying to get in on the “cinematic universe” business as well, with plans to start with movies based on Bloodshot and Harbinger. The new “VCU” line of movies is in partnership with Sony Pictures, and the first movie is expected to be Bloodshot, to be released in 2017. Bloodshot has already landed two of the year’s hottest directors in the form of the team of David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, whoe helmed last year’s surprise hit John Wick. Bloodshot tells the story of a war veteran whose abilities are enhanced by billions of nanites injected into his bloodstream. Other Valiant Comics properties also now in development include the X-Men-style team book Harbinger (from the producers of the Fast and Furious franchise), the comedy Archer & Armstrong, and the thriller Shadowman.
By now, you’re probably familiar with Hollywood’s tendency to produce “duelling movies” — competing producers and studios developing very similar projects at the same time (and sometimes even releasing the movies concurrently). Right now, we have two live action adaptations of The Jungle Book coming out within a year of each other, and two different movies about the Boston Marathon Bombing. We can now firmly add the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis challenge between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs to the mix, with this week’s news. Fox Searchlight Pictures has cast Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as the much older Bobby Riggs, who makes proud proclamations about his ability to defeat any woman tennis player (despite clear evidence that she was a much, much better tennis player, even before their matches). The Carell/Stone project appears to have surprised the competition, which included Tom Hanks’ Playtone (as a HBO movie), and Will Ferrell’s Gary Sanchez, with Will Ferrell himself attached to play Bobby Riggs. Battle of the Sexes will be directed by the male/female directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the directors of both Ruby Sparks and Little Miss Sunshine.
It has seemed like every week lately has brought news from Walt Disney Pictures about new ensemble cast members for their 2017 live action remake of their 1991 animated musical Beauty and the Beast. This week brought two more announcements, and with them, we can definitely note a running theme. That theme appears to be representation of other studios’ major franchises. So far, we’ve had Emma Watson (as Belle) and Emma Thompson from Harry Potter, Luke Evans (as Gaston) from The Hobbit, and Sir Ian McKellen from both the Tolkien and X-Men franchises (as Cogsworth the talking clock). This week, we can add Star Wars and Transformers that list, as Ewan McGregor (from the Star Wars prequels) has signed on to play Lumiere the singing candelablra, and Stanley Tucci (from Transformers) has joined the cast as well. Tucci’s character is a bit of a departure because he will be playing a new character not seen in the 1991 movie, a singing grand piano called Cadenza. Disney has scheduled this remake of Beauty and the Beast for March 17, 2017.
As Walt Disney Pictures continues developing live-action remakes of their various animated feature films, it appears that such efforts are starting to go “deep” into their vault. For example, one of the studio’s lesser known classic movies is #9, Fun and Fancy Free, which packaged two short films together as an anthology: Bongo and Mickey and the Beanstalk, an adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk. Without specifically mentioning Mickey and the Beanstalk, Walt Disney Pictures this week acquired a revisionist take on Jack and the Beanstalk called just Beanstalk. Not much is known about Beanstalk right now except that it comes from writer/producer Vince Gilligan, best known as the showrunner on the hit cable TV series Breaking Bad. Gilligan wrote a detailed outline for Beanstalk, and will now hand it off to one of his Breaking Bad producers, Thomas Schnauz, to write the full screenplay.
Following the success of last year’s The LEGO Movie, Warner Bros is expanding its animated feature film plans beyond just movies with LEGO branding. One such movie is called Storks, a pregnancy-themed comedy that promises to be “a fresh and funny look at the fable behind storks.” This week, we learned that both Andy Samberg and Kelsey Grammer have signed on to provide the voices of two of the lead characters. Storks will be codirected by Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Doug Sweetland, creator of the Academy Award-nominated animated short film Presto. Warner Bros has scheduled Storks for release on September 23, 2016.
A few years back, Warner Bros nearly gave a greenlight to a DC Comics project called Justice League: Mortal, which would have been directed by George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road). One of the characters in that version would have been Green Lantern John Stewart, and the person who would have played John Stewart was rapper/actor Common. That was before Warner Bros decided to cast Ryan Reynolds as long-running Green Lantern Hal Jordan. The reason this is worth bringing back up again is that Warner Bros has cast Common as one of the many, many, characters in next year’s Suicide Squad, and… they’re not saying who he’ll be playing. When Warner Bros announced their ambitious plans last year for future movies, Green Lantern was one of the announced characters, but not until 2020, and they didn’t specify which Green Lantern it would be. Did Warner Bros just stealth-announce one of their big movie stars and we just don’t realize it yet?
While doing press last year for his supporting role in Gone Girl, Tyler Perry revealed that he didn’t actually know who famed director David Fincher was. This leads us to question what else he may not know whenever he takes a new job. For example, has he ever heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? We certainly hope so, because Tyler Perry has joined the cast of next year’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (scheduled for 6/3/16). Perry will be playing the scientist Baxter Stockman, the creator of the Mouser machines, who in some versions of TMNT has also become a cyborg villain. Earlier reports had stated that the sequel would feature the anthropomorphic animal villains Bebop and Rocksteady, but they haven’t yet been cast or officially announced. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 will be directed by David Green, whose Earth to Echo last year earned a Rotten Tomatometer score of just 48%.