This week’s Ketchup brings you nine headlines from the world of film development news (those stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next). Included in the mix this time around are stories about such titles as Dungeons & Dragons, Ninjago, and Minecraft, and also the sequels to Blade Runner and Wreck-It Ralph.
The USA may still be waiting for a genuine box office hit that is adapted from a video game (not counting Warcraft, currently at $413 million in global box office), but Walt Disney Animation came close in late 2012 when their Wreck-It Ralph earned $165 million in the USA and $471 million worldwide. That movie was an original property and concept, although it did feature dozens of licensed video games as easter eggs, cameos, and supporting roles (and so did the much-less successful Pixels last year). In three years since, there has been talk about a possible Wreck-It Ralph sequel, but the only two films with official release dates (not counting the undated Frozen 2) were the Polynesian fantasy adventure Moana (11/23/16), and the Jack and the Beanstalk romance Gigantic, the latter of which (about Jack falling in love with a 60-foot-tall girl giant) was bumped back eight months to November 21, 2018 after initially being scheduled for a March release. The animated Disney movie taking over the release date vacated by Gigantic will indeed be a sequel to the 2012 hit Wreck-It Ralph (whose potential title may or may not be Super Wreck-It Ralph). The sequel will be set six years after the first movie, and will involve Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) somehow “breaking the Internet,” as the focus shifts from old school arcade games to the modern era of gaming. Director Rich Moore (who also directed this year’s Zootopia) has already revealed that one game/movie that might receive at least a “nod” is TRON, which was also a Disney film. The March 9, 2018 release date that Disney is giving the Wreck-It Ralph sequel is just three weeks before March 30, 2018, the release date for Warner Bros and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One, another movie promising lots of video game cameos and easter eggs.
In the months following the release of Captain Phillips, many hailed Somali-American actor Barkhad Abdi as the film’s breakout discovery, with predictions and hopes that it would lead to lots of great new roles. Abdi has indeed kept busy, including supporting roles in Eye in the Sky and The Brothers Grimsby, but he hasn’t yet appeared in a movie with as high of a profile as Captain Phillips (much less what someone would consider a “tentpole” release). That appears to have changed this week, because Barkhad Abdi has joined the cast of the long-awaited sequel to Blade Runner. Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners) is directing the sequel, whose cast includes Harrison Ford (obviously), Ryan Gosling, Dave Bautista, and Robin Wright. Warner Bros has scheduled the Blade Runner sequel (title to be announced) for October 6, 2017.
We haven’t yet heard for sure which actor will star in the 25th “James Bond” movie, but the star of the most recent four, Daniel Craig, continues to sign on for movies which arguably could/would conflict with that film’s production schedule. The latest example is called Kings, for which Craig is now in talks to join former Bond girl Halle Berry (Die Another Day). If the deal goes through, Craig will play a “loner” living in South Central Los Angeles during the 1992 L.A. riots in love with Berry’s character, and the encroaching violence motivates him to try to protect her and her children. Kings will also mark the English-language debut of Turkish director Deniz Gamze Erguven, whose Certified Fresh drama Mustang was nominated for an Academy Award this year.
The pencil-and-paper role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons has been a popular global franchise for over 40 years now, leading to (hundreds of) novels, dozens of video games, and even a fondly remembered Saturday morning cartoon series (1983 to 1985 on CBS). Dungeons & Dragons is also a popular theme for “very special” episodes of TV shows, including Community, Gravity Falls, The Big Bang Theory, and the series finale of Freaks & Geeks. The game made its way to the big screen in 2000′ Dungeons & Dragons, but it was both a box office and critical disappointment, despite the fact it was followed by two direct-to-video sequels. Movies have changed a lot in the last 16 years, however, and Warner Bros has been developing a Dungeons & Dragons reboot for a while now. The most recent news was the hiring of director Rob Letterman, who had a Certified Fresh hit last year with his adaptation of Goosebumps, and now we can report that the first actor to formally be in talks to star in the new Dungeons and Dragons is Ansel Elgort, who is probably best known for starring in The Fault in Our Stars. (Elgort also made the news last year for being in the running to be cast as the new “Han Solo” before the prequel role went to Alden Ehrenreich). It’s not yet known what role Elgort will play in Dungeons & Dragons, or whether long-rumored (and self-avowed D&D player) cast possibility Vin Diesel will end up joining the film or not. It’s also unclear what popular game elements will be adapted, except that the screenplay by David Leslie Johnson (The Conjuring 2) is reportedly set in the popular Forgotten Realms campaign.
For his sequel to last year’s hit spy comics adaptation, Kingsman: The Secret Service, director Matthew Vaughn has in the last few months assembled quite the ensemble. In addition to returning stars Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Edward Holcroft, Kingsman: The Golden Circle will introduce characters played by Julianne Moore (as the film’s main villain), Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, and pop star Elton John. As impressive as that list is, this week, another star was revealed, namely Vinnie Jones, who has previously worked with Vaughn on Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch, both of which Vaughn produced. The exact nature of his character hasn’t been revealed yet, but via Twitter, Jones has revealed that he is wearing rather suave “Union Jack” shoes, suggesting that he may be playing a member of the British “Kingsman” elite order of spies. 20th Century Fox has scheduled Kingsman: The Golden Circle for release on June 16, 2017 (up against Pixar’s own sequel, Cars 3… ouch!).
This is a shortened week in film development news, thanks to the upcoming 4th of July weekend (which means that many film development people and journalists have either taken the week off, or are refraining from making big announcements). As such, we’re going to indulge in something the Weekly Ketchup normally wouldn’t: two “dream project” type stories that arose from quotes from directors. The first (and probably the one you’re most likely to have already seen in your social media feed) involves enigmatic Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Bronson, Valhalla Rising), who’s out promoting his latest film, The Neon Demon. While doing so, Refn confirmed that he indeed hopes to direct some sort of big budget studio movie, and specifically, Refn said, “You know what I want to do? I want to make Batgirl. Let’s get Warner working on it.” Before Christopher Nolan directed Batman Begins, he was similarly a director best known for work like Refn’s, so honestly, it’s not impossible. A similar dream project was mentioned this week by the directors behind the bizarre indie hit Swiss Army Man, who said this week that they would love to direct a sequel to the 2004 Wayans Brothers comedy White Chicks, which they would direct as their dramatic equivalent of Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, complete with “the same makeup team that made those exquisite white girl faces.” (Or maybe they were kidding.)
As the home to something of a box office super-quadfecta with the rights to Star Wars, Marvel Studios, Pixar, and their own live-action fairy tale movies, Walt Disney Pictures is now very much in the position of being able to plant their own flags on future release calendars, challenging other studios to go up against them. For the “summer kickoff” month of May in 2019, Disney has already slated Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 (5/25/19) and Star Wars Episode IX (both titles likely to change). This week, Warner Bros revealed that their big Memorial Day release will be the video game adaptation Minecraft. It has been known for a while that Warner Bros was developing an adaptation of the popular “world building” game that first launched in 2011, but this release date moves Minecraft from remote possibility to within three years of release. Minecraft will mark the feature film directorial debut of Rob McElhenney, costar and creator of TV’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. If Minecraft is a box office success, it will also potentially give Warner Bros another animated franchise based on a popular game series, along with their various LEGO movies.
Ever since The LEGO Movie became one of the biggest box office hits of 2014, Warner Bros has been developing a new slate of LEGO-related movies, which include The LEGO Batman Movie (2/10/17), The LEGO Movie Sequel (2/8/19), and something called The Billion Brick Race (2019 or 2020). The fourth movie of this run will be an adaptation of the LEGO toy line Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu, which combines the fun of LEGO with the action and adventure of Japanese mythology and, well, ninjas. This week, we learned via the 2016 Licensing Expo which stars will be lending their voices to the Ninjago movie. Chinese action star Jackie Chan appears to be one of the film’s main stars, and he will be joined by the voices of Fred Armisen (TV’s Portlandia), Dave Franco (21 Jump Street), Abbi Jacobson (TV’s Broad City), Michael Peña (Ant-Man), and Silicon Valley costars Kumail Nanjiani and Zach Woods. The Ninjago movie will mark the feature film debut of Charlie Bean, who previously directed several episodes of TRON: Uprising and Robotboy.
Some movie franchises seem to have resigned themselves to the fact that they’ll only ever earn Rotten scores, and they keep chugging along. One example is the Transformers brand, which peaked at 57 percent with the first film and failed to top 20 percent with its two most recent entries. Undeterred, Michael Bay continues to churn them out, and this week, it was confirmed that Tyrese Gibson will return as his character, Chief Master Sergeant Robert Epps. Gibson appeared in the first three films, but took the fourth entry off (along with a few other cast members). Paramount Pictures has scheduled Transformers: The Last Knight for release on June 23, 2017, one week after the release of Cars 3 and Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which will both be released on June 16, 2017.