This week’s Ketchup includes movie development news about a Steve Jobs biopic, film adaptations of Peeps candy and Disney’s It’s a Small World, murmurings about a possible Tom Hanks-Steven Spielberg collaboration, and two movies about fake blondes — Marilyn Monroe and Barbie.
This Week’s Top Story
BARBIE: FROM DREAM HOUSE TO AMBITIOUS MOVIE FRANCHISE
Back in February, media analysts decreed that Sony Pictures needs to produce more franchise films besides The Amazing Spider-Man, Goosebumps, and The Smurfs 3. In many of the weeks since, we’ve seen Sony trying to do just that — which has included finally getting around to Ghostbusters 3, and firming up plans for Spider-Man spinoffs Venom and The Sinister Six. This week’s big announcement involves a collaboration between Sony Pictures and Mattel on a live-action comedy inspired by the long-running doll line Barbie. Here’s what the press release had to say about what the movie will be (which actually manages not to say anything about what the movie will be): “From princess to president, mermaid to movie star, Barbie has done it all –through her more than 150 careers, she has gained valuable experiences and shown her fans that anything is possible for a modern woman. In her live-action big screen debut, Barbie will inhabit many of these roles, utilizing her personal and professional skills to inspire change in the lives of everyone around her.” Sony Pictures sees Barbie as “its next big, global franchise,” with plans to go into production by the end of 2014. There is currently no announced screenwriter or director for Barbie. In somewhat related news, Jem and the Holograms is still a movie that is actually happening.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 TOM HANKS AND STEVEN SPIELBERG MAY REUNITE FOR A U2 MOVIE (NOT THAT U2)
Although it’s obviously awesome fun to imagine Tom Hanks playing Bono, the plans for a U2 movie have pretty much nothing to do with the band U2. Instead, Tom Hanks is now signed to star in a movie about an event in Cold War history. On May 1st, 1960 (coincidentally “May Day”), CIA pilot Gary Powers was shot down over Soviet airspace while flying a U2 spy plane. Tom Hanks is attached to play the American lawyer assigned to negotiate the release of Gary Powers from the Soviets. But the real reason this project is the week’s top “Fresh Development” is that Hanks is hoping he can enlist his three-time director Steven Spielberg to make the untitled U2 drama. Hanks and Spielberg’s previous actor-director partnerships include Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, and The Terminal, and as co-producers, they worked on the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers and The Pacific together. This project is the latest on a growing list of possible Spielberg-directed projects that includes Robopocalypse, a Cortes/Moctezuma epic, and The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, reported just last week.
#2 COULD LEONARDO DICAPRIO DON THE ICONIC TURTLENECK OF STEVE JOBS?
Wasting little time after last week’s departure of David Fincher (and also the chances of Christian Bale being involved), Sony Pictures has already found another director with whom to start negotiations for one of their highest prestige projects. Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) is now in talks with Sony Pictures to take the reins on their Steve Jobs biopic, which was written by Aaron Sorkin, Fincher’s collaborator on the Facebook movie The Social Network. Boyle has already reached out to Leonardo DiCaprio, who worked with Boyle on the poorly received film The Beach in 2000. Fortunately, it’s been nothing but “Fresh” RT Tomatometer scores for Boyle since.
#3 SCARLETT JOHANSSON TO VOICE OF KAA THE PYTHON IN JON FAVREAU’S THE JUNGLE BOOK
Scarlett Johansson and recent Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) are talking to Walt Disney Pictures about providing their voices to animal characters in Disney’s live-action reboot of The Jungle Book. This would be a reunion for Johansson and Jon Faveau, who worked together on Iron Man 2, the movie which introduced us to her as Black Widow. If they sign, Johansson (as Kaa the Python) and Nyong’o (as Rakcha the Wolf Mother) will be joining Idris Elba, who is already cast as the voice of Shere Khan the Tiger. This announcement puts further distance on another ongoing attempt at a live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book at Warner Bros, which has had a few different directors attached. One of those directors was Ron Howard, who also made the news this week with a deal to direct an adaptation of a recent French hit novel called The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (which, unfortunately, has nothing to do with a little orange creature jumping around on squares).
#4 FAMOUS REDHEAD JESSICA CHASTAIN TO PLAY MARILYN MONROE IN BLONDE
Two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain is now in advanced negotiations to play struggling brunette actress Norma Jean Baker — who obtained fame when she became the blonde star known as Marilyn Monroe. Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B is producing the drama Blonde, which will be directed by Andrew Dominik, who has previously worked with Pitt on both Killing Them Softly and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Blonde is an adaptation of a novel by Joyce Carol Oates of the same title which was a finalist in 2000 for a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. It’s not yet known if Brad Pitt will also take a role in Blonde. Jessica Chastain previously dyed her hair blonde for her Oscar-nominated role in The Help.
#5 YET ANOTHER EPIC TRILOGY WILL CONCLUDE WITH…SISTERHOOD EVERLASTING
Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the 2005 release of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which was followed in 2008 by a second installment, also featuring Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, and Amber Tamblyn. Those movies were based upon novels by Ann Brashares, who wrote Sisterhood Everlasting too. It’s about the group of friends coming back together after ten years apart, and so, yes, indeed, the time has come for the epic conclusion of one of those film trilogies most people probably didn’t realize was ever going to actually become one. Sisterhood Everlasting is being adapted by Liz Garcia, a writer from Dawson’s Creek. Ken Kwapis, who directed the first Sisterhood, is signed on to return for the big finale, “a trip that will change their lives forever.” All four actresses are expected to return, but no deals have officially been confirmed yet.
#6 THE LONG-IN-DEVELOPMENT FLASH GORDON MOVIE LANDS ON PLANET FOX
Now that John Carter of Mars is a part of film history, the nostalgic science-fiction property that is closest in spirit, and longest in coming, is a post-1980s big-budget reboot of Flash Gordon. We’ve heard about the project off and on for years (decades?), but this week, a major step towards production came as 20th Century Fox acquired the screen rights from the Hearst Corporation (Flash Gordon began as a newspaper comic strip). 20th Century Fox has hired the screenwriting team of J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who are also working on Star Trek 3, to adapt a previous draft by George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau). Flash Gordon is probably still best known from the 1940s serials about his adventures on the planet Mongo, fighting the forces of the Emperor Ming the Merciless. Fans of Queen and Seth McFarlane might remember the 1980 cheese-fest with Sam Jones as well. Perhaps in a good way?
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 TEEN TITANS MEMBER CYBORG CONFIRMED FOR MAN OF STEEL SEQUEL
Although there have been plenty of rumors before this week (including the possibility of Teen Titans leader Dick Grayson, aka Robin/Nightwing), there were only three superheroes confirmed to appear in the 2016 sequel to last year’s Man of Steel — Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. We now know that the fourth superhero will be Cyborg, who was introduced in 1980, and is best known as a member of the New Teen Titans (although the “New 52” retconned Cyborg into a founding member of the Justice League). Cyborg, aka Victor Stone, will be played by Ray Fisher, a young stage actor best known for making the rumor lists of Star Wars Episode VII. There’s no word yet if Cyborg’s inclusion is part of plans for an upcoming Justice League movie, or if his entry point in this sequel is directly related to a not-yet-confirmed Teen Titans movie. Warner Bros. is still committed to the release date of May 6, 2016 for the next Man of Steel, which will be taking on Marvel’s Captain America 3. Consider this one a borderline “Rotten Idea,” based mostly on the RT Tomatometer score for the first Man of Steel.
#2 DISNEY’S CINEMATIC THEME PARK EXPANDS WITH IT’S A SMALL WORLD
It’s a Small World may always be one of those truly “old school” Disney theme park attractions that is most beloved by the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who were its original target audience, but that’s not what Walt Disney Pictures is hoping for. This week marked the attraction’s 50th anniversary, and to celebrate it, Walt Disney Pictures announced the hiring of director Jon Turteltaub for the long-in-development It’s a Small World feature film. Turteltaub has a long history of working with Disney on such movies as the two National Treasure films, and also the failed attempt at a franchise with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. (It’s Turteltaub’s RT Tomatometer that helped make this a “Rotten Idea.”) The script is being adapted by Jared Stern, who is also co-writing the sequel to The LEGO Movie.
#1 FROM EASTER CANDY TO BIG-TIME MOVIE…PEEPS? (WAIT, SERIOUSLY, PEEPS?)
Every year, millions of boxes of Peeps Easter candies are produced and presumably bought, although how many of those are actually eaten is something those of us who are *not fans* can definitely debate. The recent success of The LEGO Movie has lots of corporate overlords with “cute” iconic properties considering their movie options. One of those companies is Just Born, which reports annual sales of $2 BILLION (?!?!?!) of Peeps candy treats, and which has made a deal with filmmaker Adam Rifkin. We haven’t heard much from Rifkin in recent years, but he gave us one arguably fun movie (Detroit Rock City), and he was also involved with Mouse Hunt, Small Soldiers, and Underdog. Anyway, so, yeah… a Peeps movie. We’re done here.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.