This Week’s Ketchup includes movie development news stories for such titles as Adventure Time, Beauty and the Beast, The Magnificent Seven, and The Spectacular Spider-Man, and new roles for Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio.
As sometimes happens when the director is in between film projects, we’ve been hearing a lot lately about Steven Spielberg’s potential new films, and his name came up again this week. The revelation came out when Warner Bros won a steeply competitive auction for the rights to photographer Lynsey Addario’s memoir It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War. It was only after Warner Bros won the rights that we learned what their secret weapons were in the deal. Namely, Warner Bros had already begun talks with both Jennifer Lawrence to star, and Steven Spielberg to direct, their adaptation of It’s What I Do. And now, let’s talk about why Addario’s memoir was so sought after. Lynsey Addario, even before 2001, had developed a career as a photographer in Afghanistan, including documenting people on both sides of the Taliban’s regime. So, when September 11th happened, and the United States invaded Afghanistan, Addario was uniquely positioned in what was soon to become a defining event in the early years of our century. Steven Spielberg is already working on at least two other films that will come before It’s What I Do: the recently titled Cold War drama Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks (10/16/15), and the fantasy adaptation The BFG (7/1/16). We also learned this week that Steven Spielberg will be continuing his producer relationship with director Colin Treverrow (Jurassic World), as DreamWorks has picked up his alien romance project Intelligent Life.
First off, we should acknowledge that this story concerns a deal which hasn’t been finalized, but it’s still a pretty big deal at any stage of the negotiations. Following the renewed future of Spider-Man on the big screen, Marvel Studios and Sony are working quickly to find a director for the rebooted film (scheduled for 7/28/17), tentatively titled The Spectacular Spider-Man. Director Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) had already been working at Sony on a spinoff movie for Spider-Man’s villains called The Sinister Six, and so it appears, that gave him an inside edge at being their first choice to instead direct Spider-Man’s second reboot within 10 years. This story was first reported by Latino Review, here. Perhaps not coincidentally, Joe and Anthony Russo, the directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and next year’s Captain America: Civil War signed a three year “first look” deal with Sony Pictures. Sony’s press release about the deal glowingly praised the Russo Brothers’ “ability to bring excitement, audacity and phenomenal commercial success to a variety of genres and endeavors.” What they might bring to Sony hasn’t been revealed yet, but hey, Joe and Anthony Russo did executive produce Community… (#sixseasonsandamovie).
It’s possible that various popular YA franchises have taken their place, but there was a time when nearly every sci-fi-obsessed middle schooler of a certain age and disposition seemed required to read the books of Robert A. Heinlein. For reasons that are not immediately obvious, Heinlein’s stories seem to be somewhat underpresented in film, although we did get Starship Troopers, and Ethan Hawke’s recent film Predestination was based upon a Heinlein story. One could hypothesize that Heinlein adaptations were held back for decades by budgetary issues, during the years when it was more difficult for such movies to get produced with the words “Star” “Trek” or “Wars” in the title. A sign that the times might be shifting in Heinlein’s favor happened this week, as Bryan Singer, who has guided Fox’s X-Men franchise to success, has signed on to direct one of Heinlein’s most famous titles. Bryan Singer and 20th Century Fox are working together on an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Although that is such a cool title, Fox’s adaptation will instead be titled Uprising, since basically, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is indeed about a rebellion by a lunar penal colony against Earth. Uprising is not the first attempt at an adaptation of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, as the rights have previously been set up at both DreamWorks and with Harry Potter producer David Heyman, before eventually reverting back to Heinlein’s estate after the alotted development time had passed. Of course, if 20th Century Fox is going to get Uprising going in time, they’re going to have let Bryan Singer stop directing X-Men movies for a while. Singer’s next, X-Men: Apocalypse, starts filming next month in Canada, and is scheduled for release on May 27, 2016.
Now that Walt Disney Pictures has firmed up Emma Watson as the “Beauty” in their live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, this week, the studio made two big announcements about Belle’s two would-be romantic leads. Luke Evans, whose filmography includes playing Bard the Bowman in the recent Hobbit movies, a villain in Furious 6, and the titular character in last year’s Dracula Untold, has been cast as the hunter Gaston, Belle’s human romantic interest. Not long after that announcement, we also learned that Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) had been cast as the cursed prince who becomes the film’s “Beast.” Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn) will direct Beauty and the Beast for Disney starting later this year.
Most of the stories covered by the Weekly Ketchup deal with movie and casting announcements. This one, however, isn’t directly about one specific movie, but it might address such questions for decades to come. That’s because Hugh Jackman recently said that, inspired by Michael Keaton’s performance in Birdman, he wants to keep playing Wolverine until he dies. Specifically, Jackman was quoted as saying, “I said to my wife, ‘The moral is that I should never stop playing Wolverine. I’ve got to find a way to keep playing him until I die.’ I know that someday they’ll recast the role with another actor… I’d be happy if the role was eventually recast. It would mean that it had become iconic.” Jackman’s next solo film as Wolverine is scheduled to start filming in 2016 for release on March 3, 2017.
Leonardo DiCaprio has played people struggling with problems of the mind in the past (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, The Aviator, and Shutter Island), and this week, he signed on to another such film project. And it’s one that he’s actually been considering since the 1990s. Leonardo DiCaprio is nearing a deal with New Regency to produce and star in an adaptation of the 1981 non-fiction book The Crowded Room. If the deal goes through, DiCaprio will play a man named Billy Milligan who was charged in the 1970s for crimes in Ohio that included burglary and rape. Milligan’s legal defense was that two of his 24 multiple personality disorder identities actually committed the crimes. You can read more about Milligan’s history on Wikipedia, but it’s likely filled with spoilers for the eventual movie. DiCaprio also made a multi-film deal with Netflix this week for exclusive streaming rights to his upcoming documentaries dealing with “topical and provocative environmental and conservation themes.”
The success last year of The LEGO Movie continues to have ramifications, not just for related projects like LEGO Ninjago, The LEGO Batman Movie, and The LEGO Movie Sequel, but for a film with no obvious direct connection. That project is the feature film adaptation of the Cartoon Network animated series Adventure Time. Warner Bros is now developing an animated feature based on Adventure Time which will be produced by Chris McKay, one of the producers of The LEGO Movie, who was also recently hired to direct The LEGO Batman Movie. It’s expected that the Adventure Time movie will take advantage of some of the voice talents who have already worked on the TV show, such as Neil Patrick Harris, Mark Hamill, Paul Reubens, Andy Samberg, and George Takei.
As implied by the title, Antonine Fuqua’s remake of The Magnificent Seven is going to have several stars. Denzel Washington has been attached to the remake for a few years now, and Chris Pratt also signed on recently. This week, we learned the third member of the titular septet will represent a Training Day reunion, as it’s Ethan Hawke. Hawke’s career is obviously on a continued upswing, following success with Sinister in 2012, The Purge in 2013, and Boyhood in 2014. Haley Bennett, who costarred with Denzel Washington in The Equalizer, has also signed on for a supporting role. It’s expected that MGM will schedule The Magnificent Seven sometime in 2016. The original Seven Samurai was produced in 1954, and the remake (which turned the samurai story into a gunslinging western) The Magnficent Seven was released in 1960.
Emile Hirsch is having legal problems these days. Even so, the star of Speed Racer and Into the Wild is still landing work. Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox have both signed to be the leads in The Autopsy of Jane Doe, a coroner drama that will be the English language debut of Norwegian director Andre Øvredal, who first made his mark internationally with the giant monster horror comedy Trollhunter a few years ago. Hirsch and Cox will play a father/son team of coroners who are challenged to figure out the mystery surrounding a woman’s body with no discernable cause of death. Another mystery challenging The Autopsy of Jane Doe is Emile Hirsch’s court date in Utah on March 16, as filming is scheduled to start on The Autopsy of Jane Doe in late March.
If Morgan Freeman’s career can serve as a blueprint for other African-American actors, two occupations that have seemed to worked out well for him are the POTUS (Deep Impact, and briefly in Olympus Has Fallen) and well, God (Bruce Almighty and its sequel Evan Almighty). We’re still waiting on the movie where she plays the President, but this week, Academy Award winner (and awkward Oscar sequence participant) Octavia Spencer crossed one of those off of her “bucket list.” Spencer is in final negotiations with Lionsgate to star as God in their adaptation of the bestselling 2007 novel The Shack by William P. Young. The Shack will be directed by Stuart Hazeldine (2008’s Exam) from a script by John Fusco, whose filmography includes Thunderheart, The Forbidden Kingdom, and Spirit: Stallion of the Kingdom. Fusco has also recently worked on the latest remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and the young Elvis biopic Last Train to Memphis. The Shack tells the story of a father who is invited to return to the scene of his daughter’s abduction by a note from a woman claiming to be God.