This Week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering titles like Fast and Furious, Static Shock, and Battlestar Galactica.
In the original gameplan, F9 was to have been released back on May 22, 2020 and Fast & Furious 10 would’ve been coming out next summer, probably in the 5/28/2021 spot where F9 is now scheduled. Universal Pictures confirmed this week that the main Fast and the Furious franchise will wrap up with F11. F9 director Justin Lin will also return to direct F10 and F11, with the expectation of bring back Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Sung Kang. (Sorry, Gal Gadot fans.) It’s also worth noting that this is just the core franchise we’re talking about here, as plans for a Hobbs & Shaw sequel starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are still in development.
Warner Bros announced at their DC Fandome virtual event in August that there were plans for a feature film adaptation of Static Shock, which was sort of their flagship title in the 1990s for their Milestone Media division before also being adapted in the early 2000s as a Kids WB animated series. This week, the Static Shock movie received a high profile partner in Michael B. Jordan, who joins the project as producer through his Outlier Society production company.
When Warner Bros and director Joe Wright made Pan in 2015, one of the movie’s biggest controversies revolved around the decision to cast Rooney Mara as the Native American princess Tiger Lily. (Mara later expressed regret over taking the job. For their own live-action adaptation of Peter Pan, called Peter Pan & Wendy, Walt Disney Pictures is avoiding that sort of PR disaster by casting Canadian newcomer Alyssa Wapanatâhk, who is of Cree heritage, as Tiger Lily. The role has also reportedly been “reimagined” from how author and playwright J.M. Barrie originally depicted the character. Wapanatâhk is joining a live action cast which already includes Jude Law as Captain Hook, Yara Shahidi (black-ish) as Tinker Bell, and two other relative newcomers: Alexander Molony as Peter, and Ever Anderson as Wendy.
Trends come and go in Hollywood, but one that is definitely surging right now is the musician biopic, partly because of the box office successes of Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman. Biopics in the pipeline as of this week include Respect (Aretha Franklin), Elvis (Presley), I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston), and untitled projects about Madonna and Sammy Davis, Jr. To this list, we can add famed blues guitarist B.B. King (1925-2015), as actor Wendell Pierce revealed online this week that he will star as King in a biopic called The Thrill Is On. Pierce is perhaps best known for his role as Bunk Moreland on HBO’s The Wire. On Twitter, Pierce noted that he “will honor [King] and his creative genius.” No director for The Thrill is Gone has been announced yet.
Debut novelist Delia Owens had a huge surprise best selling hit in 2019 with the novel Where the Crawdads Sing, about a young mid-centur girl growing up alone in the marshlands of rural North Carolina who finds herself the focus of a scandal. Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company partnered with Sony Pictures earlier this year to produce a Where the Crawdads Sing movie, and this week the lead role has gone to 22-year-old British actress Daisy Edgar-Jones. She has mostly worked in English and Irish film and TV projects like Cold Feet and Normal People. The Crawdads adaptation will be directed by Olivia Newman (First Match) from a screenplay by Lucy Alibar (Troop Zero).
The Broadway musical adaptation of the novel Wicked debuted seventeen years ago, and Universal Pictures has been developing a movie version since 2012 (including a period in which the film was scheduled for release in the December 2019 spot that eventually went to Cats). The production plans that would’ve led to that 2019 release were eventually scrapped, and Universal rescheduled Wicked instead for two years later on December 22, 2021. The Wicked movie now hits another serious bump on the Yellow Brick Road as director Stephen Daldry has left the production. Although Universal is now faced with replacing Daldry during the COVID-19 pandemic, his departure was reportedly over scheduling, with Universal wanting Wicked sooner than Daldry was “comfortable moving” (and also due to a lack of stage space in London where Daldry wanted to film). Universal reportedly hopes to start filming Wicked with a new director by late 2021. There is currently no new release date, but Universal’s pattern for Wicked seems to suggest it will be a December in whatever year they eventually choose, which now looks like 2022 or 2023. According to Deadline, possible Wicked directors could include J.J. Abrams, James Mangold, Rob Marshall, Ryan Murphy, and Steven Spielberg.
An entire book could be written about the many twists and turns that the Battlestar Galactica franchise has taken since showrunner Glen A. Larson came up with the idea as Adam’s Ark in the 1960s. In addition to the original 1978-1979 TV show, there was also a 1978 re-edit movie version released in theaters using “Sensurround,” the Galactica 1980 spinoff series, the critically acclaimed 2004-2009 reboot series, and various other attempts at a reboot movie, including projects from original series star Richard Hatch and X-Men director Bryan Singer. As it turns out, Universal’s plans for more Battlestar Galactica may indeed involve one of the people behind the X-Men movies: Simon Kinberg (franchise writer and Dark Phoenix director), who has signed to write and produce the BS reboot movie. A separate reboot TV show is also in development.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about the movie business, including production, but people are finding workarounds. A frequent approach appears to be filming outside the United States, especially in remote places where crews can more easily be quarantined and self-contained. The Isle of Man is a relatively small (221 square miles) bit of land in the Irish Sea, and it’s where a new comedy will soon be filmed. Harrison Ford and Ed Helms are signed to star in the shipwreck comedy The Miserable Adventures of Burt Squire Aboard the Horn High Yo, reportedly based on a true story about a man (Helms) “in the midst of a midlife crisis who embarks on what he hopes would be a dream sailing vacation, but ends up shipwrecked in the Atlantic Ocean with a charming but unhinged sea captain.” That would be Ford’s character. STX Films hasn’t announced a director yet.
Some directors stay consistently within their own niche film to film, but others will occasionally go in a completely surprising direction. For example, British director Ben Wheatley has delivered within a modest range of thrillers or suspenseful dramas, including Netflix’s recent remake of Rebecca. A movie that would not seem 100% obvious for Wheatley to direct next would be the sequel to the 2018 giant shark action movie The Meg. Now Wheatley has signed on for exactly that. Jason Statham starred in the first film, and is expected to return.
It was just three years ago that Lionsgate released their ambitious Power Rangers reboot, which earned just $142 million worldwide from a budget of over $105 million. One might argue that the low box office was a sign that the moviegoing audience, but Paramount Pictures (taking over from Lionsgate) is moving forward with plans for a new Power Rangers cinematic universe with stories set both in feature films and new TV shows. Paramount, eOne, and Hasbro have enlisted Jonathan Entwistle (The End of the F***ing World, I Am Not Okay With This) to shepherd all of the potential Power Rangers projects in both film and TV. None of the actors and actresses in the recent 2017 reboot (including Elizabeth Banks) are expected to be involved with Paramount’s projects.