Weekly Ketchup

Weekly Ketchup: Tron Team to Remake The Black Hole

Plus casting news for Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Taylor Lautner

by | December 4, 2009 | Comments

This week’s Ketchup include news of plans to remake The Amityville Horror (again) and Disney’s The Black Hole, a new project for acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson and new roles for Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwyneth Paltrow and one of the stars of The Twilight Saga: New Moon.



We’re still over a year away from the 12/17/10 release of Tron: Legacy, but the producer and director of this sequel to a classic Disney science fiction movie are reuniting to remake the other classic Disney sci-fi movie: The Black Hole. Joseph Kosinski (who is making his feature debut with Tron: Legacy) will direct from a script by Travis Beacham, cowriter of another upcoming remake, this spring’s Clash of the Titans. The Black Hole has a number of distinctions, including being Disney’s most expensive movie ever at the time (1979), Disney’s first PG-rated movie and one of the first movies ever to use CGI special effects. The story of The Black Hole revolves around a group of explorers aboard the spaceship USS Palomino who discover a lost ship, the USS Cygnus, floating outside a black hole. Inside the Cygnus, they discover a scientist who controls an army of robots, and are challenged to resolve the mystery of what happened to the rest of the Cygnus’ crew. This remake of The Black Hole is one of the first expensive projects for Disney’s new regime, and replaces for its production company the shelved plans to produce the Captain Nemo: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea prequel. Although this column is often skeptical of remakes, the idea of remaking The Black Hole for the 21st century is one that this writer can support, at least at this early stage. 1979’s The Black Hole was an ambitious attempt at fairly serious outer space science fiction, but the film is hindered by the technical limitations of the time. If the remake tries to stay faithful to the original film (as Tron: Legacy appears to be doing to Tron), then we could be in for a really cool space adventure movie. I should also note that this movie is not to be confused with David Fincher’s plans to adapt the Black Hole graphic novel, which is a completely different sort of story.


Frequent collaborators Paul Thomas Anderson and Philip Seymour Hoffman are reuniting once again for Anderson’s sixth film, The Master, and this time, Hoffman will have the starring role. Set in the 1950s, The Master will tell the fictional story of a charismatic and intellectual founder (Hoffman) of a new religious organization. He has a fervent lieutenant in the form of a 20s-something drifter named Freddie who finds himself questioning his new faith and the mentor that he has embraced. The Master is currently set up at Universal Pictures, but the studio will not give a greenlight on the $35 million project until Anderson turns in the script. Given the subject matter, Universal might be nervous about whether the story might inflame members of real life religious organizations, but considering Anderson’s track record (Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood), what they’re likely not to get is a bad movie.


At the premiere of The Lovely Bones this week, Mark Wahlberg revealed that HBO’s Entourage (which Wahlberg executive produces) could someday become a movie, much in the same way as Sex and the City did. Wahlberg says that the show, which starts its seventh season in the summer of 2010 should have at least two more seasons, and then after that, a movie is possible. Entourage is loosely based upon Wahlberg’s experiences as a young Hollywood actor surrounded by a close group of friends, and the show has satired a variety of Hollywood trends and concepts, including the Sundance Film Festival (Queens Boulevard), Oscar bait biopics (Medellin) and big budget superhero movies (James Cameron’s Aquaman). If the movie does someday happen, it’s likely that the show’s five main cast members will continue on for the movie as well, and they are: Adrian Grenier (heartthrob actor Vincent Chase), Kevin Dillon (his older brother Johnny Drama), Kevin Connolly (Vincent’s manager), Jerry Farrara (Vince’s personal driver) and Jeremy Piven (agent Ari Gold, who is patterned after real life agent Ari Emanuel, brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel).


Serbian director Emir Kusturica (Black Cat, White Cat) is getting a head start on his plans to film a movie in 2011 by negotiating with his stars way ahead of time. Johnny Depp and Salma Hayek are in talks to star in Seven Friends of Pancho Villa and the Woman with Six Fingers, a biopic of the early 20th century Mexican revolutionary that is based upon the book The Friends of Pancho Villa by James Carlos Blake (though normally movies shorten the title, not the other way around). Rather than focusing on just Villa’s battle efforts, the movie will depict “how Villa and his compadres had a great time fighting and robbing the rich, but also dancing, partying and making love.” If Johnny Depp does indeed sign on, this will be a rare case where Depp will speaking a language other than English, as Kusturica intends to shoot the movie in the location- and character-appropriate Spanish. Filming is scheduled to start in 2011, with at least part of the production to be done in Mexico.


Producer Don Murphy and Angryfilms (Shoot ‘Em Up, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) is coproducing Slide, a fictional indie drama that about a late 1960s “lost weekend” in the life of famed rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix. This project is not to be confused with the long-in-development plans for a full Jimi Hendrix biopic, and Slide will not feature any actual music by Jimi. Instead, it is the story of two gangsters on the run from a mob boss that they double-crossed who accidentally kidnap Hendrix “at the height of his career and drug addiction. Along the way, Hendrix teaches the gangsters about honesty, and Hendrix learns to clean up his act.” Hendrix’s “lost weekend” is supposedly the subject of “several articles and even a graphic novel,” but I’ve searched the web on the subject, and all I’ve found are reprints of the Slide news, and without that word, I’m seeing no evidence of any actual articles anywhere about Jimi Hendrix having a “lost weekend.” Slide was written and will be written by Ray H. Greene, the director of the 2001 documentary Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies. The producers are currently looking for actors and hope to start filming sometime in 2010.


Leonardo DiCaprio has signed to make his debut as voice cast in an animated film in DreamWorks Animation’s The Guardians, voicing the character of Jack Frost. Based on an upcoming series of children’s books called The Guardians of Childhood, the movie is an adventure in which a group of heroes with holiday (and other) themes, including Santa Claus, Jack Frost, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy, must band together to stop an evil spirit called Pitch from filling the hearts of kids everywhere with fear and dread. The director of The Guardians is Peter Ramsey, who made his debut with the Halloween TV movie Monsters vs Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space. The title of The Guardians may yet change, and the movie is scheduled for release on November 2, 2012.


Gwyneth Paltrow, country singer Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund (star of next year’s Tron: Legacy) and Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) have all signed on with Screen Gems to star in Love Don’t Let Me Down, which is also being produced by Tobey Maguire’s production company. Paltrow will star as a country singer whose star has fallen, and who sets out on a comeback tour with a young singer/songwriter (Hedlund), her husband (McGraw) and a beauty queen-turned-singer (Meester). Love Don’t Let Me Down is the second film from writer/director Shana Feste, whose first film The Greatest premiered this year at Sundance and is still awaiting release. Filming starts in Nashville in January, 2010. It’s also worth noting that this will not be the first time in which Gwyneth Paltrow has played a singer, as she also starred in 2000’s Duets, a movie about karaoke singers that was arguably hurt by coming out two years too early, before American Idol turned the bar game into a national obsession.



Taylor Lautner, who costarred in The Twilight Saga: New Moon as Jacob the werewolf (and who also starred in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D), is looking for a big movie to take advantage of his new fame. It appears that might just be Max Steel, the Paramount movie based upon a Mattel action figure line (and animated TV series). If the 17 year old Lautner does sign on, he’d be playing a 19 year old “extreme sports athlete” who is accidentally exposed to nanotechnology that gives him increased strength, invulnerability and other powers. The Max Steel script is currently being worked on by the writing team of J.P. Lavin and Chad Damiani, who don’t yet have a produced script to their credit, but they are also writing two movies based on comic books by Rob Liefeld (Youngblood and Capeshooters), to give you an idea of their taste in comics, I guess. The reason this is a “Rotten Idea” this week is that Paramount’s other recent movies based on toys (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) were flawed, and so the potential for a Max Steel film being a quality movie doesn’t seem particularly great either.


Congratulations, Summit Entertainment, your relatively inexpensive teen-friendly vampire sequel New Moon just made half a kajillion dollars, you’re already at work on the third movie for the summer of 2010, and there’s a fourth movie yet to be made based on Stephenie Meyer’s last book in The Twilight Saga. What can be better than that? The answer, of course, would be to split that fourth book into two movies. Summit has hired Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter of the first three movies to work on adapting Breaking Dawn, but they have not yet told her whether she should be working on one script or two. First, Summit has to figure out if they will be able to get the film’s cast (which is only signed for four movies) to return, as well as whether they can convince New Moon director Chris Weitz to sign on to film two movies back to back. And now, let’s spend some brief time looking at what Breaking Dawn is actually about, but to avoid spoilers, I will use Smurf names, so you don’t know what characters I’m talking about. Smurfette gets pregnant with Gargamel’s baby, but the mutant half-smurf/half-wizard baby… oh, even with Smurfs, it sounds ridiculous. Anyway, at the speedy pace Summit has been making these movies, it’s possible you could be seeing the first Breaking Dawn movie in theaters as soon as 2011, with the fifth movie to follow in 2012.


One of my April Fools Days jokes this year was the idea of a remake of 2008’s The Strangers, but unfortunately in Hollywood, today’s joke is tomorrow’s reality. To add to the irony, the movie in question is not just less than 5 years old, but it was itself a remake: 2005’s The Amityville Horror, which was a remake of the 1979 movie that spawned several sequels as well. Sequels, however are so 20th century. Why bother with sequels and all that new story you have to come up with, when you just keep telling the same story every five years or so, right? That is apparently the plan for Dimension Films, which codistributed the 2005 version starring Ryan Reynolds that grossed over $100 million worldwide. All of these movies have their origin in a 1977 book (of the same title) by Jay Anson that purported to tell the “true story” of a haunted house on Long Island that has been the basis of great dispute ever since. There’s no word yet as to who might just be writing or directing this third version of the same story, but unless it’s someone really kooky and unexpected like David Lynch or Woody Allen, does anyone really care?

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS through his MySpace page or via a RT forum message.

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