This week’s Ketchup brings you nine headlines from the world of film development news (the stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next), covering titles like The Batman, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and the next Planet of the Apes.
With Jumanji: The Next Level coming out next week and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker the week after, studios are racing to get trailers out for their big movies for the spring and early summer of 2020. This week, that included Black Widow (5/1/2020), Mulan (3/27/2020), and the James Bond movie No Time to Die (4/8/2020), while the first Wonder Woman 1984 (6/5/2020) trailer is expected to arrive this weekend. Going into this week, we also knew that Sony Pictures was likely to do the same for the reboot/sequel we’d been calling Ghostbusters 2020, and we now have more details about that film. The title will be Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and the sequel directed by Jason Reitman (son of Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman) will likewise deal with a generational passing of a mantle (or proton pack, in this case). The family will be played by Carrie Coon (Avengers: Infinity War), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), and McKenna Grace (Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House), with Paul Rudd and Bokeem Woodbine in supporting roles. You can see the first official Ghostbusters: Afterlife poster here, and read more about the premise and setting here, unless you want to wait for the trailer, which will debut online on Monday.
Like many directors of his stature, Martin Scorsese enjoys working with some of the same actors repeatedly. Early in his career, the actor Scorsese worked with the most was Robert De Niro (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and recently, The Irishman), and in the 2000s and 2010s, that distinction more often went to Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island). For his next film, Martin Scorsese is going to double down, so to speak, by working with both Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. That film, which starts filming in March, will be called Killers of the Flower Moon, based upon a non-fiction book about a series of murders in Oklahoma in the 1920s that was one of the first major cases taken on by the then-new Federal Bureau of Investigation. Leonardo DiCaprio is expected to play one of the FBI agents, and Robert De Niro will play a local cattle rancher suspected of committing the murders of Osage tribe members.
As good as they often are, most films in a language other than English are going to face a box office handicap in the United States, so there is a very old tradition of some of those movies being remade in English. One that has arguably crossed over well in the last 30 years or so is 1987’s Babette’s Feast (Fresh at 97%), a Danish film about a French woman who brings her culinary skills to a remote village unaccustomed to food that tastes good. Although he had a bit of a critical misstep with Downsizing (Rotten at 48%), director Alexander Payne has otherwise delivered a series of “Certified Fresh” films (including Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, and Nebraska), and he’s now developing an English-language “reimagining” of Babette’s Feast, which will be set in a religious community in small-town Minnesota.
For pretty much every year since the 1990s, the Sundance Film Festival has become the first place that many people hear about some of the films that later go on to become awards season contenders. (This year, those films include Clemency, Hala, and Honey Boy.) We don’t have enough space here to list all of the films in Dramatic Competition next year, but we will note that the roster is one of Sundance’s most diverse ever, with over half the films being directed by people of color. Some of the more famous actors in competition in 2020 include Zazie Beetz and Winston Duke (Nine Days), Daniel Dae Kim (BLAST BEAT), Meek Mill (Charm City Kings), Elisabeth Moss (Shirley), Andy Samberg (Palm Springs), Tessa Thompson (Sylvie’s Love), and Steven Yuen (Minari).
Whenever two (or more) siblings become famous actors, it’s not unreasonable to expect they will eventually co-star together in a film (unless they’re, say, Shirley Maclaine and Warren Beatty). One potential sibling pairing that hasn’t happened yet is Dakota Fanning and her younger sister Elle, despite both being very prolific in the last decade or so. The movie that will finally bring them together — to play sisters, no less — will be called The Nightingale, to be directed by French actress-turned-director Mélanie Laurent. This film should not be confused with the movie that came out this August also called The Nightingale, from director Jennifer Kent (The Babadook). Dakota and Elle Fanning will play “two sisters coming of age in France on the eve of World War II [as they] struggle to survive and resist the German occupation of France.”
For a while now, there has been increasing evidence that 2021’s The Batman (6/25/2021) might be an adaptation of the acclaimed mini-series Batman: The Long Halloween, partly because the film will include such Bat-villains as Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), the Penguin (Colin Farrell), the Riddler (Paul Dano), and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), all of which were featured in The Long Halloween. If that’s true, one of the major characters from that story who hasn’t been cast yet is Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Dent, who, in the course of the story, begins his transformation into another Batman villain, Two-Face. We say all that as a preface to the latest casting news, as Peter Sarsgaard has joined The Batman in an undisclosed role, except that there are rumors that he’s either playing a cop or a district attorney, in which case, the secret might be that he’s playing the future Two-Face (or not… maybe flip a coin?).
Although we do still get movies based on dramatic TV shows (like Downton Abbey, Charlie’s Angels, and next year’s Fantasy Island), Hollywood has pretty much given up on movie versions of half hour sitcoms. Keep that in mind over the next year or so when you hear about a new movie called Perfect Strangers that is not a movie version of the 1986-1993 sitcom about Greek-ish immigrant Balki and his American cousin Larry. Instead, Perfect Strangers is the title that actress and screenwriter Issa Rae (Insecure, Little) is using for her English-language remake of the Italian comedy Perfetti Sconosciuti. The film will be about a dinner party at which everyone has to keep their phones face up on the table so that all text and phone calls are public to everyone else. Issa Rae will next co-star with LaKeith Stanfield in the romantic drama The Photograph (2/14/2020).
When Disney finalized their acquisition earlier this year of the film and TV properties of 20th Century Fox, the scope of all of what they had actually acquired was almost more than what most stories could fully detail. (It’s reminiscent of the time Jason Segel revived The Muppets at Disney.). Along with Alien, Die Hard, and Home Alone, Disney also now owns the long-running science fiction franchise Planet of the Apes, which wrapped its reboot trilogy in 2017 with War for the Planet of the Apes. We can now confirm that Disney is indeed moving forward with plans for a new Planet of the Apes movie to be directed by Wes Ball (The Maze Runner). Having reported that, we should also note that we don’t actually know right now what a “new Planet of the Apes” movie means — whether it would be a new reboot, a direct sequel to War for the Planet of the Apes, a remake of the original film, or a movie set anywhere in the hundreds of years in between. The possibilities span from Chimpan-A to Chimpanzee.
Speaking of Walt Disney Pictures, the studio has so many possible projects they can greenlight, but not every idea is automatically a fresh one. For example, there’s Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and the various sequels it inspired, like Honey I Blew Up the Kid (Rotten at 40%) and Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves (Rotten at 25%). Frequent Disney star Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast, Frozen) apparently went to Disney a while back about bringing the franchise back, with Josh Gad to play the adult son of Rick Moranis’ character from the original films. This sequel will be called Shrunk, and the director that Disney has hired to get it “embiggened” is Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger, October Sky, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms) who made his directorial debut back in 1989 with — you guessed it — Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.