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 new roles for Benedict Cumberbatch, Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Lopez, and the reunion of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
It has now been over four years since 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road (Certified Fresh at 97%) was released to widespread critical acclaim, going on to receive 10 Academy Award nominations and six wins (for Costume Design, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing). Even so, the idea of director George Miller ever returning for a follow-up seemed like it might have hit a permanent roadblock last year because of a lawsuit with Warner Bros. This week, however, Miller seemed to offer hope to his fans as he said about his sequels, “It seems to be pretty clear that it’s going to happen,” saying that the recent Warner Bros. merger with AT&T helped solve the legal issues. Miller also revealed that his sequel plans for Mad Max: Fury Road actually include three films, including two for Mad Max, and another for Charlize Theron’s Furiosa character. While we’re waiting for further news about George Miller’s next Mad Max movie, he’s currently filming the fantasy romance Three Thousand Years of Longing, starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton.
After an exciting run on the fan-favorite NBC sitcom Community, Joe and Anthony Russo joined Marvel to direct Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, all four of which were Certified Fresh at 85% or higher. The Russos are not attached to direct any future Marvel films — they did talk this week about an interest in returning for Secret Wars, based on the iconic 1980s mini-series event — but at their San Diego Comic-Con panel, they revealed that they are actively developing two other movie adaptations: the 1970s anime TV series Battle of the Planets and the 1980s independent space opera comic book Grimjack. The Russos are producing both projects, but could also possibly direct them as well.
Following the $159 million domestic box office of last year’s soft reboot of Halloween (Certified Fresh at 79%), Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions quickly confirmed plans for at least one more Halloween sequel. More recently, it was confirmed first that Jamie Lee Curtis will be returning, and that actually it would be two sequels that will be filming back-to-back. This week, Universal and Blumhouse made it official by announcing that the sequels will be titled Halloween Kills (10/16/2020) and Halloween Ends (10/15/2021). Both sequels will have the same director, David Gordon Green, who co-wrote them with actor Danny McBride, who also co-wrote last year’s Halloween with Green.
Before he directed films like Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator, Ridley Scott made his directorial debut in 1977 with The Duellists, about French officers during the Napoleonic Wars engaged in a series of duels in the early 1800s. Things came full circle this week with the news that Scott is now attached to direct The Last Duel, which is set in 14th century France (the distinction here is that The Last Duel concerns a medieval trial-by-combat between knights). The Last Duel will also be a reunion project for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who will co-star and co-write (along with Nicole Holofcener). This week, Damon also signed on to star in an independent drama called Stillwater, which will also be set in France.
When Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes got on a helicopter last year and flew away from The Walking Dead, it was quickly announced that AMC had plans for a series of spinoff movies about the continuing adventures of Rick Grimes. At San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend, the first teaser trailer for a Walking Dead movie debuted, but the biggest surprise had nothing to do with new plot twists. Instead, the surprise was that Universal Pictures has picked up the Walking Dead movie for theatrical distribution (i.e. not just as an AMC movie). The plan is still for three movies starring Andrew Lincoln, with Lincoln expected to spend two months on each movie. Andrew Lincoln also signed on this week to join Naomi Watts in Penguin Bloom, playing Watts’ husband as their family befriends an injured Australian magpie chick (bird).
Following the casting earlier this month of Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live action remake of The Little Mermaid, fans quickly began speculating about who might play her father, King Triton. Most fans picked black actors, with Idris Elba being a popular choice, but some also chose Terry Crews. As it turns out, Disney instead went with Academy Award-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, Skyfall, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales). In the original animated movie, King Triton does not have his own song (he does have one in the stage musical called “The World Above“), so it’s probably likely that Bardem won’t be singing in the live-action version either.
The Cassius Marcellus Coolidge painting series Dogs Playing Poker is something of an iconic example of American kitsch. Around the same time in England, however, the artist Louis Wain had a similar series of paintings of cats that frequently had Big Eyes (a la Keane), exaggerated toothy smiles, or early examples of psychedelic art. It’s crazy stuff, and now Benedict Cumberbatch (whose Doctor Strange also dabbled in psychedelia) is signed to star in the biopic Louis Wain for Amazon Studios. Cumberbatch’s co-stars will include Claire Foy, Toby Jones, and Andrea Riseborough.
Now that Dark Phoenix (Rotten at 23%) is done and over with, Jennifer Lawrence‘s time in the X-Men franchise is officially done, leaving her with no ongoing franchise (since The Hunger Games ended in 2015, and last year’s Red Sparrow was a non-starter). It may well be that Lawrence will soon find another, but for now, she appears to be aiming for “smaller” movies. With that in mind, Jennifer Lawrence is now attached to star in Mob Girl, based on Teresa Carpenter’s novel which was itself based on the true story of 1970s and 1980s mob informant Arlyne Weiss-Brickman. Mob Girl will reportedly depict how Weiss-Brickman grew up around “wise guys,” including running errands for them, but decided to cooperate with the FBI after a loan shark threatened to harm her teenage daughter. (Jennifer Lawrence is only 28 years old, so her daughter may be younger in this movie version.)
One factor (besides, you know, all the torture) that has united all movies in the Saw franchise to date has been the release date, which has always been between October 23rd (Saw VI) and October 29th (Saw and Saw 3D). So, when Chris Rock announced that he was producing and starring in a Saw spinoff (sometimes called The Organ Donor online), the presumed release date was in October of 2020. Perhaps tying into the film’s premise as a Saw spinoff and not a Saw movie exactly, Lionsgate this week bumped up Chris Rock’s film to a release date of May 15, 2020 (against the Scooby-Doo reboot Scoob). Rock will star in the film as a police detective investigating a series of gruesome crimes, with Samuel L. Jackson also on board to play Rock’s character’s father.
The ensemble “stripper crime comedy” Hustlers (9/13/2019) is now less than two months away, but one of its stars, Jennifer Lopez, is already preparing for new films in 2020 and beyond. Following flops like UglyDolls, Poms, and Best of Enemies, STX Entertainment is reportedly looking for big stars for their next moves, and one of them is going to be Jennifer Lopez. “Jenny from the Block” is now producing and will star in a drug lord drama called The Godmother for STXfilms. Lopez may also make her directorial debut with the film, in which she plays real life Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco, who was (real life spoiler warning) shot and killed in 2012 at the age of 69 (Jennifer Lopez is only 50). Lopez’s next film after Hustlers will be the romantic comedy Marry Me, costarring Owen Wilson. This week, the Marry Me cast expanded as Lopez and Wilson will now be joined by Sarah Silverman and British actor John Bradley, who has a lot more time on his hands now that his run as Samwell Tarly on HBO’s Game of Thrones is done.