This week's Ketchup includes movie development stories for several video game adaptations (this week was E3), and sequels for Man of Steel, Planes, The Purge, and the Terminator franchise. There's also new roles for Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, and Emma Watson.
This Week's Top Story
WARNER BROS OFFICIALLY STARTS DEVELOPING MAN OF STEEL SEQUEL
As the early numbers continue to pour in for what is expected to be a huge weekend for Man of Steel, this column can report that Warner Bros has started development on a second movie starring the character barely called Superman in the current movie (but totally is). Zack Snyder, David S. Goyer, and Christopher Nolan will all return as the sequel's director, screenwriter, and producer, respectively. The Thursday night numbers of $21 million were higher than Iron Man 3 ($15.6 million) and The Avengers ($18.5 million), but below The Dark Knight Rises ($30.6 million). The occasional disparities between opening numbers and final grosses are obvious, however, when one considers that The Avengers ended up grossing $427 million more than The Dark Knight Rises in global box office, regardless of The Dark Knight Rises having such huge midnight numbers. Critically, Man of Steel is currently hovering in that grey zone between positive critical plurality and what RT considers "Fresh" (55% for top critics, 58% overall). Those numbers are considerably lower than the previous movie in the franchise, 2006's Superman Returns, which was more of a critical darling with 75% overall positive reviews. Breaking Last Minute News: Screenwriter David S. Goyer says that the Bruce Wayne who may exist in the Man of Steel universe (and who may someday be in Justice League) would be a different Bruce Wayne than Nolan's trilogy. That pretty much nips the bud in all of the speculation about Joseph Gordon-Levitt reprising his character in the upcoming DC Comics movies.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 THIS WEEK IN DISNEY: PLANES ALREADY GETS A SEQUEL, AND QUICKSILVER IN THE AVENGERS 2 MIGHT BE KICK-ASS
Like most weeks, the majority of this "Disney" news actually involves Marvel, but let's start with one that isn't Marvel: Disney has already announced a release date of July 18, 2014 for Planes: Fire & Rescue, a sequel to this summer's Planes, which is itself a spinoff of Pixar's Cars franchise. These Planes movies are not actually produced by Pixar, it's worth noting. In that same announcement were two dates for unspecified future Marvel movies (May 6, 2016 and May 5, 2017), which are likely to go to Phase 3 movies after the 2015 release of Ant-Man, which starts Phase 3 off after the release earlier that year of The Avengers 2. This practice of announcing release dates for unspecified movies is a lot like how, in May, Disney announced dates for four movies each from Pixar and Disney Animation in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018. We don't really know which Marvel movies might get those two May release dates, but one of them could be Doctor Strange, widely considered a strong bet for Marvel Phase 3. Going back to The Avengers 2, we learned this week that the current top choice to play speedster Quicksilver is Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who already has been in two superhero movies as the star of Kick-Ass and its upcoming sequel. Coincidentally, Quicksilver will also be played by another young Kick-Ass actor, Evan Peters, in 20th Century Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past. Quicksilver's sister Scarlet Witch hasn't been cast yet, but Saoirse Ronan is seen as a strong contender (considering they were looking for an actress "like Saoirse Ronan"). Finally, speaking of Ms. Ronan (sort of), there were a lot of stories this week that John C. Reilly was going to be playing Ronan the Accuser in Guardians of the Galaxy, but it turned out to be a mistake at Deadline (he will be playing the previously reported Nova leader Rhomann Dey, not Ronan the Accuser).
#2 THIS WEEK IN VIDEO GAME ADAPTATIONS: UBISOFT'S BIG PLANS, AND TOMB RAIDER GOES BUFFY
The search is still on for the one (or two) great movie adaptation that does for video games what Blade, X-Men, and Spider-Man did for superhero movies. And at the forefront of that effort is video game company Ubisoft, who made several big announcements this week in conjunction with E3. Ubisoft already has movies based on Assassin's Creed (starring Michael Fassbender and scheduled for 2015), Splinter Cell (starring Tom Hardy), and Ghost Recon in development. This week, three more titles were added to the development mix: Far Cry, Rabbids, and the upcoming Watch Dogs. The Assassin's Creed adaptation also got exciting new (old) blood this week in the form of producer Frank Marshall, who in the past has been involved with such movies as Raiders of the Lost Ark, (the upcoming) Jurassic Park IV, and the Jason Bourne movies. Likewise, Michael Bay has now come on board the Ghost Recon film at Warner Bros, marking his first project at that studio. Michael Bay is currently just producing Ghost Recon, but he may eventually direct as well. Finally, there's one big video game movie story this week that has nothing to do with Ubisoft (all those previous stories did). Marti Noxon, Joss Whedon's producing partner on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has signed with MGM to start work on their planned reboot of Tomb Raider. Noxon has also worked on other TV shows like Glee, Mad Men, Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy, and the Buffy spin off Angel.
#3 LEONARDO DICAPRIO MAY BE POISONED, SHOT, STRANGLED, BLUDGEONED, AND DROWNED AS RASPUTIN
Grigori "The Mad Monk" Rasputin was one wacky, wacky dude. He's had a pervading presence in pop culture, including being a Hellboy villain, and being played by the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) in the 1971 historical epic Nicholas and Alexandra. And now, Warner Bros has acquired a spec pitch script about the life of Rasputin that the studio is hoping Leonardo DiCaprio will one day star in. The pitch came from Jason Hall, who doesn't yet have any produced films to his credit, but who is something of a rising star in Hollywood after Steven Spielberg agreed to direct his screenplay American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper. Leonardo DiCaprio is an interesting choice to play Grigori Rasputin, partly because we've never really seen him quite that "beardy" (and this is the guy who played Howard Hughes in The Aviator).
#4 EMMA WATSON TO BE CROWNED QUEEN OF THE TEARLING
Emma Watson is out doing publicity this week as the actress with the largest female role in a movie obviously dominated by an ensemble cast of six male comedians (This is the End). Watson is also obviously most famous for playing the leading female in a movie franchise otherwise most dominated by male characters, as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. The movie that was announced this week might however finally see her stepping forward as a female lead in a series of films. The deal in question involves adaptations of a upcoming trilogy of fantasy novels called Queen of the Tearling, which is being referred to as a female Game of Thrones (which is a little odd considering GoT itself has a lot of strong female roles). In some regards, Queen of the Tearling is very much starting off as a Harry Potter reunion, as that franchise's producer (David Heyman) and studio (Warner Bros) are all principal participants. The first book by Erika Johansen will be published in 2014, and will be "set three centuries after an environmental catastrophe when a malevolent Red Queen holds considerable power." The trilogy was reportedly inspired by a 2007 speech by Barack Obama, but this writer can't quite remember the speech about an evil Red Queen ruling 300 years in the future. There are currently no writers or directors attached to work on Queen of the Tearling.
#5 EDDIE REDMAYNE FROM LES MISERABLES MAY PLAY STEPHEN HAWKING IN THEORY OF EVERYTHING
All of those extreme closeups in Les Miserables may have given Eddie Redmayne some crucial experience for what may be his next role. Redmayne is being sought after by Working Title to star as famed physcist Stephen Hawking in Theory of Everything, a biopic which will focus on Hawking's relationship with his "wife" (which may be Hawking's first wife, who he divorced in 1991). You can read more about the "theory of everything" here, which is not to be confused with the similar concepts of "unified field theory" or "the grand unified theory." Theory of Everything will be directed by James Marsh, best known for the documentaries Man on Wire and Project Nim.
#6 TOM HANKS HOPES FOR BETTER RESULTS THE SECOND TIME WITH CLOUD ATLAS DIRECTOR
Last year's Cloud Atlas was arguably flawed (though it is 67% Fresh on the RT Tomatometer), but the film certainly couldn't be accused of a lack of ambition. Andy and Lana Wachowski attracted the most press attention, but half the movie (the stories set in the 1936, 1973, and 2012) was actually directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, The International). Tom Hanks, who had significant roles in two of Tykwer's segments (as a scientist and a gangster author), apparently liked working with the German director. Hanks and Tykwer are going to collaborate again on an adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel A Hologram for the King. Tom Hanks will star as a struggling American businessman who goes to Saudi Arabia for a last ditch effort to save his career by selling a hologram projection system to the new King Abdullah.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 UNIVERSAL PICTURES WANTS TO URGE THE PURGE AGAIN
Horror movies are frequently made on a shoestring budget compared to other genres, which then frequently leads to them being sequelized because the box office proportions can be so wildly skewed. Solidly in that category is The Purge, which earned an opening box office weekend of $36 million from a production budget of just $3 million. And so, Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions have started development on a sequel to The Purge. Probably adding to the allure of franchising The Purge is the fact that the premise can be applied to different lead characters with every new movie, meaning that negotiations with actors like Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey won't be necessary for each new entry in the series. This also increases the number of ongoing horror franchises being produced by Blumhouse Productions to four, along with the Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister franchises (the first movie of which also starred Ethan Hawke). This is a Rotten Idea story based on the "Rotten" 38% Tomatometer score for The Purge.
#8 SEXAGENARIAN ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER CONFIRMED FOR THE FIFTH TERMINATOR
At the age of 65, Arnold Schwarzenegger is now old enough to fully receive Social Security benefits and, apparently, play a cyborg killing machine (presumably one that's been around for a really, really, long time). The news comes directly from the star of The Last Stand himself, as he went on to say that filming is scheduled to start in January of 2014. What is currently unknown is who will be directing the next movie after 2009's Terminator: Salvation, which is "Rotten" on the RT Tomatometer with a score of just 33%. Patrick Lussier (cowriter of Drive Angry, Dracula III: Legacy) and Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island; cowriter of Alexander) have both worked on the script for this fifth Terminator movie.
#1 ADAM SANDLER TO SAY HELLO GHOST, GOODBYE LAUGHTER
Two years after the release of Jack and Jill, there are still people in Hollywood who will hire Adam Sandler to star in a "comedy." The latest suc... um, diligent business partner will be producer Chris Columbus of 1492 Pictures, along with Universal Pictures. The project is called Hello Ghost, and is a remake of a South Korean supernatural comedy about a man haunted by four ghosts after attempting to kill himself (until he successfully helps each of them fulfill their dying wish). Chris Columbus, who will also direct Hello Ghost, in the past has directed such movies as I Love You Beth Cooper, Bicentennial Man, the first two Home Alone movies, and oh yeah, the first two Harry Potter movies. The adapted screenplay was written by screenwriter Karen Croner, who recently gave us the box office misfire Admission.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.