This week’s Ketchup comes to you on a pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday, allowing for coverage of a few stories that didn’t fit in last Friday. Included in the mix are ten movie development news stories covering such films as James Bond 24, Wonder Woman, X-Men: Apocalypse, Zoolander 2, and a Janis Joplin biopic.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 DALLAS BUYERS CLUB DIRECTOR TO COVER JANIS JOPLIN
After directing one of last year’s most acclaimed films (Dallas Buyers Club), Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée has another film (Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon) this year which is on many critics’ predicted “best of” lists for 2014. We already know what film will be next, and it’s Demolition, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts. Vallée’s next film after Demolition, however, might be another film based on a true story, like Dallas Buyers Club and Wild. That’s because the director has taken over development of the long-in-the-works Janis Joplin biopic in which Amy Adams is attached to star as the 1960s Texas blues-influenced pop star. Jean-Marc Vallée is taking on this Janis Joplin project after previous directors like Fernando Meirelles (City of God, Blindness) and Lee Daniels (The Butler, Precious) spent time working on it before eventually moving on. As part of his deal, Vallée has tasked his Dallas Buyers Club screenwriters Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack to work on the screenplay, which has to be creative in its scope, because the independent budget is expected to stay within the $15-$20 million range.
#2 OSCAR ISAAC AS X-MEN VILLAIN APOCALYPSE: HE’S NOT NEW, AND NEVER GETS OLD
For the last 30 years, one of Marvel’s biggest, baddest villains, in or out of the X-Men titles, has been Apocalypse, the mysterious, seemingly immortal Egyptian mutant. The blue-and-grey super mutant has been so popular and influential that not only has he led various villain groups (including the Four Horsemen) and been the Big Bad in various events, but there’s even a hugely popular timeline and alternate reality called Age of Apocalypse. So, as production readies for X-Men: Apocalypse (5/27/16), the casting of Apocalypse himself is sort of a big deal. There had been talk that Tom Hardy might get the role, but instead, Inside Llewyn Davis star Oscar Isaac will star as Apocalypse. We’re still a year away from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which also features Isaac, so 20th Century Fox might be playing the long game here, anticipating the star he might become not this year (or next year) but by the time 2016 rolls around (much like what Marvel Studios has been doing with their casting since Chris Evans was cast as Captain America). Oscar Isaac’s profile will continue to rise next month with the release of A Most Violent Year.
#3 SPEAKING OF VILLAINS AND CATS… IS CHRISTOPH WALTZ BRINGING BACK ERNST BLOFELD?
There’s a reason we haven’t seen the villain organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E. or characters like Ernst Blofeld in official James Bond movies since the 1970s (an uncredited Blofeld appeared in the beginning of the 1981 film For Your Eyes Only). Well, last year, the lawsuit preventing the use of Blofeld ended with a settlement, which leads us to this week’s rumor. Just two weeks ago, we first heard that Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained) was in some stage of negotiation to play a character in the untitled movie we can only call “James Bond 24” right now. London’s The Daily Mail (which has a strong recent history of reporting James Bond stories that turn out to be true) is reporting that Christoph Waltz will be playing none other than Ernst Blofeld. Even if you have only a fleeting familiarity with Bond villains, you’d probably recognize the iconic image of Ernst Blofeld (even if only it’s because you’ve seen an Austin Powers movie): the bald head, the scarred eye, the neutral tone Mao suit, the obligatory white cat, and the booby-trap dispatching of underlings. In an age dominated by cinematic superheroes and supervillains, are we finally ready again for Ernst Blofeld? MGM and Columbia Pictures have scheduled “James Bond 24,” whatever it ends up being titled, for November 6, 2015. Director Sam Mendes and franchise stars Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, and Ben Whishaw are returning, along with new cast members Dave Bautista and Léa Seydoux.
#4 THIS WEEK IN STAR WARS RUMORS: WILL THERE BE SOMETHING LIKE A BOBA’S SEVEN HEIST FILM?
Guardians of the Galaxy proved audiences still enjoy space opera adventures featuring bandits, loveable scoundrels, and all-around badass wiseguys, so it should surprise no one that other studios are looking to produce similar films. Of course, Lucasfilm has the inside track on that sort of thing, since Han Solo is the character that basically defined that appeal for an entire generation (or two). With all that in mind, a new rumor is circulating that claims the Star Wars movie that director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) is developing is a “heist” movie about a group of bounty hunters hired to steal the plans for the original Death Star (ie, set before Star Wars: A New Hope). This rumor also ties into past talk that one of the “prequel spinoffs” would involve Boba Fett (Han Solo and Yoda might be the stars of the other two). If this rumor pans out, however, Boba Fett won’t be the “star” of this movie (though he could certainly be one of the bounty hunters); it will instead be a new character to be introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There’s already speculation that it could be the character played by veteran actor Max Von Sydow (because of his age), but that’s not necessarily a given in a galaxy with so many aliens and robots. In other Star Wars news, the first 88-second teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12/18/15) will debut at select theaters this weekend, and probably online soon after (either officially or otherwise).
#5 JURASSIC WORLD STAR BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD JOINS PETE’S DRAGON
Just yesterday we saw the release of the first trailer for next summer’s Jurassic World, in which Bryce Dallas Howard is shown doing what Kitty from Arrested Development advised her kid to do: “run.” Within the last seven days, it was reported that Bryce Dallas Howard is in talks to join a very different movie (presumably) that’s also about a very, very big lizard-type beast. In the remake of Pete’s Dragon (which is sounding like it’s quite an altered update), Howard’s character would be a forest ranger who doesn’t believe the titular little boy has really befriended a dragon in the nearby forest which is being cleared by loggers. Robert Redford is already signed to play a local old man who tells crazy stories about a dragon that lives in the aforementioned woods. The Pete’s Dragon remake is being directed for Walt Disney Pictures by David Lowery, who’s making his big budget studio debut after impressing with last year’s indie hit Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
#6 PENELOPE CRUZ JOINS ZOOLANDER 2, WITH RIDICULOUS SEQUELS BACK IN VOGUE
It doesn’t take much to revive an old classic, even if the results aren’t always favorable. Take, for example, the “ridiculous comedy sequel.” We don’t really see that many of them anymore, but there was a time in the 1980s and 1990s when the release schedule was packed with movies like Weekend at Bernie’s II, Police Academy 5, or Austin Powers in Goldmember. All of this is pretense to the recent success of Dumb and Dumber To, and the impact it has reportedly had on other studios. Specifically, the long-in-development Ben Stiller sequel Zoolander 2 is finally getting close to production, with the news a week ago that Penelope Cruz has signed on to costar in the fashion industry spoof. Zoolander will always be a historical exception, because its $60 million box office total might have been much higher if its release date had not been September 28, 2001 (Hollywood just doesn’t move fast enough to cancel a release date 16 days away). Ben Stiller will once again direct Zoolander 2, hopefully to better effect than his last film as director, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s not yet known which other Zoolander stars might return, such as Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor, Milla Jovovich, or David Duchovny.
#7 DJIMON HOUNSOU TO REPLACE IDRIS ELBA IN KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE
Earlier this year, Idris Elba was mentioned as being in talks with Warner Bros to play a “Merlin-esque” character in their planned six-movie adaptation of the legends of King Arthur. Well, in the last seven days, we learned that the first movie is now called Knights of the Round Table, and that Djimon Hounsou is now in talks to play that character. Guy Ritchie, who successfully directed two Sherlock Holmes movies for Warner Bros, will direct this first film (and possibly the rest). Charlie Hunnam is attached to play King Arthur, Astrid Berges-Frisbey will play Guinevere, and Jude Law will play the first film’s villain (though we don’t know who that character is, yet). Warner Bros has scheduled Knights of the Round Table for July 22, 2016.
#8 CHANNING TATUM TO MAKE DIRECTORIAL DEBUT WITH FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK
Now that critics and prognosticators are speculating that Channing Tatum might receive an Academy Award nomination for his role in Foxcatcher, it might have been inevitable that the star known for the two Jump Street films would ultimately want to direct. Well, co-direct, actually, but it still gets him a WGA card, so it counts. Channing Tatum and Magic Mike writer/producer Reid Carolin have signed a deal with the Weinstein Company to produce and co-direct an adaptation of a YA book called Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. The book was written by Matthew Quick, who is a favorite at TWC following the success of the adaptation of his book Silver Linings Playbook. Channing Tatum will also costar as a high school teacher who intervenes in the plans of a troubled teenager who has plans to kill his best friend, and then himself. Yeah, Step Up, this is not. Tatum is also expected to make his big screen debut as Gambit in the aforementioned X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016 before going on to star in a Gambit solo movie.