This Week’s Ketchup covers ten stories from the last seven days in the film development news world. Included in the mix are news stories for movies like Captain America: Civil War, Micro, Rampage, and Star Trek 3.
After months of rumors, speculation, and a few different “short lists,” this week Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures officially announced who will be replacing 31-year-old Andrew Garfield as their teenage superhero Spider-Man. The role of Peter Parker has gone to 19-year-old British actor Tom Holland, who was previously best known for costarring in 2012’s The Impossible, and for starring in Billy Elliot in the London production. Tom Holland is expected to almost immediately report to Atlanta to start filming his first film as Peter Parker, in next year’s Captain America: Civil War (5/6/16). After that film wraps, the focus will turn to the new solo Spider-Man movie, which Sony Pictures (and Marvel) has scheduled for July 28, 2017. That movie will be directed by Jon Watts, whose Sundance hit Cop Car is scheduled for release on August 7, 2015. Other young actors that Marvel and Sony considered before casting Tom Holland included Asa Butterfield (Hugo), Judah Lewis (this fall’s Demolition), Matthew Lintz (Pixels), Charlie Plummer (HBO’s Boardwalk Empire), and Charlie Rowe (TV’s Red Band Society). Tom Holland won the role as Peter Parker after a series of screen tests, which included auditioning with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, under supervision from Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige and former Sony executive Amy Pascal. Other directors that Marvel and Sony considered before hiring Jon Watts included Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies), Ted Melfi (St. Vincent), and codirectors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Vacation). As for whether Tom Holland will be able to convincingly replicate some of Peter Parker’s more gymnastic jumps and flips, check out the videos Holland has posted to his Instagram account.
In the final 40 years of his life, influential director Stanley Kubrick was only able to get nine films actually produced, but some of his greatest projects eluded him. Steven Spielberg quickly took over A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and some of Kubrick’s other unproduced projects included a Napoleon Bonaparte biopic (with Jack Nicholson) and a World War II project similar to Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. One of Kubrick’s oldest such scripts was called The Downslope, which was written in 1956, in between Fear and Desire and Kubrick’s first major critical success, Paths of Glory. Now, over 55 years later, The Downslope finally looks to be adapted, and ambitiously, it is being planned as three separate films. The Downslope is a Civil War epic about the “bitter, strategic series of Civil War battles in the Shenandoah Valley between Union General George Armstrong Custer and Confederate Colonel John Singleton Mosby, known as the Gray Ghost for his stealth and elusiveness.” The first of the three Downslope adaptations will be directed by Marc Forster, whose filmography includes World War Z and the “Certified Fresh” films Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, and Stranger than Fiction.
One of the recurring themes in film development stories this year (and last year, too) has been that Sony Pictures is suffering at the box office against stronger competitors like Universal, Disney, and Warner Bros. What’s overlooked in that meme, however, is that in years without a Transformers movie (like, say, 2015), Paramount Pictures isn’t doing much better, either. To date, in 2015, Paramount has only 5.2% of the market share (far behind the top four studios, who account for 74.1% of the share). So, Paramount is very much in the business of shoring up what franchises it still has, and this week, that news was all about Star Trek. Even as Zachary Quinto is getting his eyebrows ready for filming of Star Trek 3 (possibly called Star Trek Beyond) in Dubai and Vancouver, Paramount is also getting ready for Star Trek 4. After contract negotiations related to California laws preventing contracts from binding individuals over 7 years, Paramount has struck new contracts with their Star Trek cast. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, in particular, now have much better contracts for their third and fourth Star Trek movies. Paramount’s rebooted Captain Kirk, for example, only made $600,000 for the first movie in 2009, but will earn ten times that amount for Star Trek 3. Paramount has scheduled Star Trek 3 for July 8, 2016.
Although director James Mangold is currently prepping for his second Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman, the director of Walk the Line is now signed on for another celebrity romance movie. James Mangold will direct an adaptation of the Chris Greenhalgh book Seducing Ingrid Bergman, about the romance in post-WWII 1945 Paris between the acclaimed actress and war photographer Robert Capa. If Mangold can get his film through development and produced in a timely fashion, he may win a “dueling movies” race with other productions to get a movie about Robert Capa made. The other project, sometimes (ironically) called Waiting for Robert Capa, has had directors Michael Mann, Tom Hiddleston, and Gemma Arterton (not as Ingrid Bergman) attached. However, that film remains stuck in development as of this writing. James Mangold reportedly wanted to call his Bergman/Capa film Blood and Champagne, but that title will probably not be used.
Longtime producing partners Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are teaming up once again for a timely “ripped from the headlines”-style adaptation of the non-fiction book Houses of Deceit by Buzzfeed writer Ken Bensinger. The book is described as being “the definitive account of American FIFA exec Chuck Blazer and his role in the largest sports and public corruption scandal in history.” This soccer scandal drama will be directed by Gavin O’Connor (Warrior, Pride and Glory) for Warner Bros, working from a script by Anthony Tambakis (Warrior, Jane Got a Gun). Ben Affleck and Gavin O’Connor recently worked together on the thriller The Accountant (1/29/16). There was also an online rumor this week that Ben Affleck might be directing a solo Batman movie (which he will also star in) for 2018. If that rumor is correct, Warner Bros might be making the official announcement in two weeks at San Diego Comic-Con.
We don’t yet know if July’s Pixels will be a box office blockbuster, but Jurassic World certainly was, and this news story can be seen as influenced by both movies. New Line Cinema is planning on starting filming in the summer of 2016 on an adaptation of the classic Midway arcade game Rampage. In that game (and many sequels and remakes that followed), humans are mutated into giant monsters that start destroying cities around the nation (starting in Peoria, Illinois, of all places). The monsters include George (a gorilla a la King Kong), Lizzy (basically Godzilla), and Ralph (a giant werewolf). The human forces dealing with the titular “rampage” will be led by Dwayne Johnson, who will start filming Rampage next summer after wrapping Fast & Furious 8 for Universal Pictures. Johnson is also currently working with New Line Cinema on the action comedy Central Intelligence, along with Kevin Hart. Rampage will be the fourth time that Johnson has worked with producer Beau Flynn, after Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Hercules, and New Line Cinema’s San Andreas.
Marvel’s Ant-Man is still 3 weeks from release, but at least one competing studio appears to have made a move towards developing a similar project in response to the film’s potential success. DreamWorks Studios has acquired the feature film rights to the 2011 novel Micro, by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston. Michael Crichton died in 2008 at the age of 66, and Micro was finished posthumously by author Richard Preston (The Hot Zone, The Demon in the Freezer). Micro is “a high-concept thriller that follows a group of graduate students lured to Hawaii to work for a mysterious biotech company – only to find themselves miniaturized and cast out into the rain forest, with nothing but their scientific expertise and wits to protect them.” DreamWorks Studios is also developing Michael Crichton’s other posthumously-published novel, Pirate Latitudes, set in the Caribbean in the 17th Century. Michael Crichton’s many other adaptations include Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Congo, and he also worked on Westworld, and produced the NBC TV series ER.
Since winning a Golden Globe (and an Academy Award nomination) for Birdman, Michael Keaton has been on exactly the sort of comeback trail that his Birdman character would have envied. Keaton’s next film will be Spotlight (about the Catholic Church child molestation scandal in Boston). Keaton is also signed to play McDonald’s executive Ray Kroc in The Founder, and will also star in next year’s Kong: Skull Island, along with Tom Hiddleston. And now, with this week’s news, Michael Keaton is now attached to another comic book adaptation (although it’s not a superhero movie, a la Batman). Michael Keaton is producing and will star in a Men in Black-style science fiction/action comedy movie called Imagine Agents, based upon the Boom! Comics title. Imagine Agents (also sometimes written as I.M.A.G.I.N.E. Agents) is about a secret organization that works with the very real entities otherwise known as children’s “imaginary friends.” Michael Keaton will play “a jaded 20-year veteran agent” (a la Tommy Lee Jones in the Men in Black movies). Imagine Agents is set up at 20th Century Fox.
Although there were certainly movies like Taken before 2008, that film’s success created something of a mini-wave of movies for actors of a certain age. About half of them have also starred Liam Neeson, but there was also Denzel Washington in The Equalizer, Keanu Reeves in John Wick, Kevin Costner in 3 Days to Kill, Mel Gibson in Edge of Darkness, Pierce Brosnan in The November Man, and Sean Penn in The Gunman. Well, we can now probably add Arnold Schwarzenegger to this growing list in the future, based on one of this week’s news stories. Schwarzenegger has signed with Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa production company to star in a revenge thriller called 478. The script was written by Javier Gullon, who worked with Denis Villeneuve on Enemy (and also two other recent films which received Rotten Tomatometer scores). Arnold Schwarzenegger will play a widower whose wife and child are killed in a plane crash caused by an air traffic controller, so the man sets out to take revenge. (The title 478 is probably a reference to the downed plane’s flight number). This story landed in this spot as one of the week’s Rotten Ideas based on the 5-out-of-5 Rotten scores Arnold Schwarzenegger has earned since 2013.
Walt Disney Pictures may already have the various Marvel Studios characters, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones, but the studio remains open to also developing other action and adventure properties. One unusual such example made the news this week and seems sort of like it was compiled by the manatee writers from South Park. Screenwriter Stephen Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana) has made a deal with Walt Disney Pictures to write and direct “an adventure film involving Charles Darwin, “the British naturalist and geologist who made breakthroughs in the areas of evolution and natural selection.” The exact nature of this adventure movie hasn’t been disclosed yet, but it’s speculated that the premise will involve Darwin’s five years aboard the HMS Beagle, during which he made many of the discoveries that would in later years inspire his writings. Although Traffic and Syriana were Certified Fresh, most of Gaghan’s other films have received Rotten Tomatometer scores, like Havoc (45%), Rules of Engagement (36%), The Alamo (29%), Abandon (16%), and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (7%).