This week’s Ketchup brings you another 10 headlines from the world of film development news (the stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next), covering such titles as The Little Mermaid, A Quiet Place Part II, and Searching 2.
The verdict is still out on whether the $467 million international box office haul for Bumblebee will prove enough for Paramount Pictures to continue giving other Transformers their own spinoffs (nearly eight months later, Paramount has yet to announce another such film). On the other hand, Paramount is also the studio behind another franchise based on popular Hasbro toys: G.I. Joe. Unlike the six live action Transformers movies, which have earned a domestic box office total of $1.576 billion (for an average of $262 million), the two G.I. Joe movies to date have only earned a total of $272 million combined. That might be the reason Paramount is foregoing the idea of continuing the G.I. Joe franchise proper and taking a chance on spinoffs instead. The first of those will be Snake Eyes, about the mysterious mute ninja, and although the character was previously played by stuntman-turned-actor Ray Park (AKA Darth Maul), we learned this week that the role will now be played by Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians. Snake Eyes will be directed by Robert Schwentke, whose movies to date have mostly received Rotten Tomatometer scores (13% for R.I.P.D. and 11% for The Divergent Series: Insurgent). The other G.I. Joe spinoff movie announced this week doesn’t have a title yet, but it will reportedly feature the live-action debut of the super spy known as “Chuckles.” Meanwhile, Tollbooth, Dee Jay, and dozens of other G.I. Joe characters are still waiting on their own movies.
It’s far harder to think of sequels that have entirely new casts than you would think; you have to go all the way back to 1982 for one of the most famous examples, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and in cases like the Annabelle franchise, we’re considering the doll herself to be the main character. That’s possibly because sequels generally exist to continue a character or group of characters’ story, and that is also often tied to the perceived star value of the actors involved. So, it was arguably surprising news this week when it was announced that Sony Pictures’ Stage 6 Films production company is now developing a sequel to last year’s Searching (Certified Fresh at 92%), which starred John Cho, Debra Messing, and Michelle La in a thriller about a frantic dad’s search for his missing teenage daughter. The first film was set entirely on computer or smart-phone screens, presented to the audience through all sorts of different video clips and chats, but the sequel will reportedly feature an entirely new cast and premise.
Director Steven Soderbergh announced his plans to retire from directing in 2012, but by 2017, he was back with Logan Lucky, which was followed by Unsane, and the Netflix films High Flying Bird and The Laundromat for a total of four films in just three calendar years. You’d be forgiven for not knowing what The Laundromat is, because that Netflix film about the Panama Papers, starring Meryl Streep, doesn’t have a trailer or an announced release date yet. The experience must have been a good one for Soderbergh and Streep, because they’re already in New York City (relatively) secretly filming their next film together called Let Them All Talk. There’s no clue what Let Them All Talk might be about, but the other detail we know about it is that one of Streep’s co-stars will be Gemma Chan, whose recent films have included Crazy Rich Asians and Captain Marvel, in which she played the Kree villain Minn-Erva. As we reported just last week, Chan is also reportedly in talks for Marvel’s The Eternals.
2019 is turning out to be a relatively big year for both Shia LaBeouf and (especially) Robert De Niro. Shia LaBeouf is currently in theaters with the indie critical hit The Peanut Butter Falcon (Certified Fresh at 97%) and also has Honey Boy (currently Fresh at 100%) coming out in November. Robert De Niro was a frequent Saturday Night Live guest star in the recent 2018-2019 season, and this fall he has both Joker (10/4/2019) and Netflix’s ambitious The Irishman. Much like the aforementioned “peanut butter,” we’re about to find out if LaBeouf and De Niro are two great things that are even better together, because both actors are now attached to star in the “redemption drama” After Exile. LaBeouf will star in the drama based on a true story as a recently released convict who teams up with his alcoholic (and fellow ex-con) father (De Niro) in an attempt to save his younger brother from following their steps into crime.
Rapper-turned-actress Awkwafina is in the midst of such a prolific streak right now (she’s right up there with Tiffany Haddish as far as pop culture ubiquity) that it might be easy to forget that her breakout role in Ocean’s 8 was only a little more than a year ago (6/8/2018). In addition to the critically acclaimed The Farewell earlier this year and this week’s The Angry Birds Movie 2, her upcoming slate includes Jumanji: The Next Level (12/13/2019), The SpongeBob Movie: It’s a Wonderful Sponge (5/22/2020), director Tate Taylor’s Breaking News in Yuba County, the Netflix musical The Prom, Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2/12/2021), and Disney’s The Little Mermaid remake. That’s six movies, four of which are part of major franchises, and this week, we have word of upcoming Awkwafina movie #7. Awkwafina has signed with Legendary Pictures to star in their adaptation of the fantasy novel The Last Adventure of Constance Verity about a young woman who’s been saving the world from supernatural threats from the moment she was born, but now just wants to have a normal everyday life.
A sort of funny thing happened with superhero movies in the era before Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. Years before they became as ubiquitous as they are today, the genre saw a number of spoofs or satires, including Blankman (1994), Mystery Men (1999), Sky High (2005), My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006), and Superhero Movie (2008, but before Iron Man). Perhaps the time is ripe for these sort of superhero comedies to make a comeback? That perhaps is the thought behind the news this week that Kevin Hart will produce and star in a STX superhero comedy called Night Wolf from two of the screenwriters of this year’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu (Fresh at 68%). Hart will star as a fiancee who meets his future father-in-law (yet to be cast) who he soon discovers is secretly the famous superhero called (The) Night Wolf.
There have been several failed (or faltering) attempts at replicating Marvel’s “shared universe” concept, but someone who might have actually figured out a winning formula is director Kenneth Branagh, who in 2017 gave us a new remake of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (Fresh at 60%), which earned over $352 million worldwide. Now that Disney owns the 20th Century Fox film properties, they are still moving forward with Branagh’s second planned film, which will be a remake of 1978’s Death on the Nile (Fresh at 75%). Branagh will again direct and also star as Detective Hercule Poirot, along with an ensemble cast including Annette Bening, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, and Letitia Wright (Shuri from Black Panther). The latest actor to enter talks for a role in Death on the Nile is Russell Brand, but there’s no indication which role he will take on. Disney and Fox have scheduled Death on the Nile for release on October 9, 2020, which puts it a week after Venom 2 and the week before another remake, The Witches.
For a while this year, we had a possible situation in which Dave Bautista (AKA Marvel’s Drax) almost starred in two “odd couple” movies with a lot of similar themes, until My Spy was moved to January 10, 2020 to avoid direct competition with Stuber. Bautista will play a C.I.A. operative in My Spy, and he played an L.A.P.D. detective in Stuber, but that still leaves several other agencies he hasn’t yet represented on film. We’ll soon be able to cross the D.E.A. off of his “to do” checklist, though, because he is now attached to produce and star in an action thriller called Traphouse. Bautista will play an undercover D.E.A. agent who engages with his partner “in a game of cat and mouse with an audacious, and surprising group of thieves — their own rebellious teenagers, who have begun robbing from a dangerous cartel, using their parents’ tactics and top-secret intel to do it.”
Even though the majority of movie casting stories use language like “in talks,” those negotiations so frequently result in the actor actually being hired that many have gotten used to ignoring the use of such language. It does, however, occasionally happen that a star indeed drops out of talks after initially being in talks. Last month, just two weeks after Halle Bailey was announced as the new Ariel in The Little Mermaid, it was reported that One Direction star Harry Styles was in talks to co-star as her human romantic interest, Prince Eric. Walt Disney Pictures will now have to continue looking for their male lead, however, because Styles ultimately turned down the offered role (with no reason given). Negotiations continue with Awkwafina (as Scuttle), Javier Bardem (as King Triton), Jacob Tremblay (as Flounder), and Melissa McCarthy as the evil part-octopus witch Ursula. We’re considering this the Rotten Idea of the Week because of the way Harry Styles’ fans have taken the news.