This Week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as Ferrari, The Flash, The Magic School Bus, and a remake of Twister.
There have been hints in the “real world” for a while now that Walt Disney Pictures had plans for Pirates of the Caribbean following Johnny Depp’s run as Captain Jack Sparrow. Most of this has revolved around the character of Redd, a female pirate who became a featured greeter at the Disney parks in 2018. In late breaking news this Friday, we now know that Margot Robbie is attached to star in a new Pirates of the Caribbean spinoff that will be written by Christina Hodson, who worked with Robbie on this year’s Birds of Prey. The new film hasn’t actually been confirmed to be a “Redd” movie quite yet, but that’s where the speculation is quickly turning. In a somewhat surprising twist, this new Margot Robbie Pirates of the Caribbean movie will also reportedly be separate from the Pirates of the Caribbean reboot by original Pirates of the Caribbean co-writer Ted Elliot and Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin — previously, many thought their movie would be the one to introduce Redd. It’s possible that Walt Disney Pictures is developing both of these projects to improve their chances that one of them will reach the greenlight stage (Paramount has been doing this for a while with their Transformers projects, including Bumblebee, also written by Hodson). There is no current release date for any new Pirates of the Caribbean project, but with everything going on in the world, it’s unlikely it could be before the summer of 2022.
The longer big-budget movies take to get produced, the more likely it is that their storylines will twist and change, but at least at one point, the upcoming solo movie for The Flash was going to adapt the Flashpoint premise, which includes both time travel and “parallel world”-type adventures. Flashpoint eventually became a big part of the TV show The Flash as well, leading to a recent scene during the Crisis on Infinite Earths events when the Ezra Miller’s and Grant Gustin’s separate versions of the Flash actually met. Possibly confirming a similar story for The Flash (6/2/2022), Michael Keaton is now signed to reprise his role as Bruce Wayne A.K.A. Batman from his two movies with director Tim Burton (1989’s Batman, Fresh at 71%; and 1992’s Batman Returns, Certified Fresh at 79%). The inclusion of Keaton’s Batman in The Flash is reportedly meant to establish that there is not just “one” DC Universe, so that the characters like those in the Arrowverse, Stargirl, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, Robert Pattinson’s The Batman, and the DCEU occupied by Aquaman, The Flash, and Wonder Woman, all exist in separate realities. It’s a stark departure from the way Marvel Studios has kept the Marvel Cinematic Universe going in one consistent setting since the first Iron Man in 2008 (the Fox/Marvel movies like X-Men and Deadpool don’t count). Warner Bros. is also keeping the door open for other future appearances by Michael Keaton as the older Batman, which might include the long-in-development Batgirl solo movie.
After attaining fame with the hit Broadway musical Hamilton (a filmed version of which is coming to Disney+ on July 3, 2020), Lin-Manuel Miranda expanded into film and animation, including work with Disney on Mary Poppins Returns (in which he co-starred) and Moana (for which he co-wrote the songs). We’ve also known for a while that Miranda has a project with Sony Animation called Vivo (6/4/2021), and this week, another new project with Disney Animation was revealed. Talking to Good Morning America on Monday, Lin-Manuel Miranda mentioned that he is spending his quarantine-at-home time working on an untitled Disney animation project set in Colombia. Reportedly, the project will be directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush, who worked with Miranda as the directors of Moana (Certified Fresh at 95%). This news came just a few days after this Disney blog reported that Miranda, Howard, and Bush were working on a Disney musical called Encanto (Spanish for “charm”), about a young girl from a magical family who herself does not have any magical powers. Some sites are already listing Encanto with a possible release date of November 24, 2021, but release dates are obviously very fluid right now.
One of the biggest box office surprises of late 2019 may have been the car race period piece Ford v Ferrari (Certified Fresh at 92%), which was able to earn over $117 million in the USA and over $225 million globally. It was not the only “Ferrari” project being developed at the time, though, as director Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral, Public Enemies) had also been trying to get his own biopic project going about the life of Italian automobile tycoon Enzo Ferrari, who also played a pivotal role in Ford v Ferrari. Michael Mann’s Ferrari project is now being sold at the Cannes Virtual Market with Hugh Jackman attached to star as Enzo Ferrari. The focus of Ferrari will be the summer of 1957 (nine years before the events of Ford v Ferrari) when both Ferrari’s personal and professional lives were in turmoil. Mann reportedly completed a new rewrite of the Ferrari screenplay, which is based on the Brock Yates book Enzo Ferrari – The Man and the Machine. Of course, it’s worth noting that Hugh Jackman is very specifically Australian, so it will be interesting to see if he attempts to appropriate any sort of Italian accent in the new film.
Not that long ago, many in Hollywood were hopeful that movie theaters could be “back in business” by July, but that was before recent reports of the COVID-19 pandemic numbers going up in many states and Governor Cuomo of New York postponing movie theater reopenings. Even as dozens of projects were delayed from this summer (or went Video-on-Demand), Warner Bros. and director Christopher Nolan have been adamant about Nolan’s action film Tenet remaining a summer 2020 movie (though they did delay Tenet earlier this month from July 17 to July 31). Well, Warner Bros. has moved Tenet again, this time back another two weeks to August 12, 2020 (two days before Bill & Ted Face the Music and Greenland on 8/14/2020). With this move, the most anticipated movie still scheduled for July (for now) is Disney’s Mulan (7/24/2020), but speculation is high that Mulan will also be delayed. Other movies still scheduled for July include Unhinged (7/10/2020), The Broken Hearts Gallery, and Cut Throat City (both 7/17/2020). In related news, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, previously scheduled for a theatrical release on May 22, 2020, will now debut as a streaming title sometime in early 2021.
Although the genre is seemingly being kept alive singlehandedly by Gerard Butler (Geostorm, next month’s Greenland), the disaster movie is not as common in recent years as it was in the 1990s and 2000s, when titles like Independence Day, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact, and Armageddon were major box office hits. 1996 in particular was a big year for the genre with the #1 film being Independence Day and #2 being Twister (Rotten at 57%). Perhaps seeing Twister as even more relevant now (thanks to climate change), Universal Pictures is actively developing a remake. Director Joseph Kosinski, who has worked with Tom Cruise twice (Oblivion and the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick) is now in talks for the Twister remake with screenwriters currently being sought. It’s currently unclear how closely the new film will stick to the storyline of the original, which focused on a team of storm chasers played by Helen Hunt, the late Bill Paxton, and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Kosinski was also at one time developing a remake of The Black Hole for Disney, but that project appears to have been scrapped (or, at best, delayed indefinitely).
When we first started hearing about the upcoming third Jurassic World movie we now know as Jurassic World: Dominion (6/11/2021), one of the biggest stories was that it would feature the return of three of the original Jurassic Park stars: Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Sam Neill, all reprising the same characters. Characters from the first Jurassic Park have returned before, including the kids in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and BD Wong in Jurassic World, but Jurassic World: Dominion will feature another surprising return. Campbell Scott has reportedly signed on to co-star in Jurassic World: Dominion as Dr. Lewis Dodgson, a character from Michael Crichton’s novels who appeared in Jurassic Park as the mysterious figure who gave Wayne Knight’s character the cannister in which to put the stolen dinosaur embyros. Scott is taking over the role — likely to be one of the film’s villains — because the actor who played Dodgson in Jurassic Park, Cameron Thor, is “no longer available.”
After a long history of animated TV shows based on their various characters, Scholastic Entertainment is now starting to develop more and more theatrical feature films, including Goosebumps (Certified Fresh at 78%), Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (Rotten at 48%), the upcoming Clifford the Big Red Dog (11/13/2020), and announced just last week, the Animorphs movie. We will also soon be able to add a live-action adaptation of The Magic School Bus to that list, as Elizabeth Banks has signed on to produce and star as Ms. Frizzle, the teacher who drives the bus as it takes kids on adventures through time and space. In the animated TV series, Ms. Frizzle was originally voiced by Lily Tomlin, with Kate McKinnon coming on board later to voice her sister. The Magic School Bus will be distributed by Universal Pictures, which is also the studio that released the three Pitch Perfect movies in which Elizabeth Banks also co-starred (and she also directed Pitch Perfect 2).
After starring in both Garfield: The Movie (Rotten at 15%) and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (Rotten at 11%) (and thankfully, not a Garfield 3 as seen in Zombieland: Double Tap), Bill Murray also voiced one of the talking dogs in frequent collaborator Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs (Certified Fresh at 90%). This week, Murray signed on for yet another voice role as a stray dog named Bum in Bum’s Rush, along with Anne Hathaway and Robert Duvall. Bum’s Rush will be directed by Aaron Schneider (Greyhound, Get Low) from a screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell, who received a story credit on Blood Diamond and co-wrote Get Low. The independent drama will be filmed in Santa Barbara and New Mexico, though it’s unclear, as many film productions are forced to address, when exactly they might be able to get that done. Hathaway will play a custom boot maker who befriends Murray’s Bum as “these two independent souls find themselves at a serious crossroads, one that will change both their hearts and minds in ways they can hardly imagine.”
As movies are increasingly based more on concept or franchise than the star’s fame, we see fewer stories about the sort of star-driven projects that used to be the norm. That said, the Cannes Film Festival — or, as it’s been rebranded this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Cannes Virtual Market — remains one of the places where these sort of “retro” star-driven projects can still generate interest. One of the movies at the market this year is a sci-fi comedy called Alpha Gang, about a group of aliens who are sent on a mission to conquer Earth disguised as a gang of bikers. Alpha Gang will feature an ensemble cast that includes Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Mackenzie Davis (Terminator: Dark Fate), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Independence Day: Insurgence), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion), and Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead). Writer-director duo Nathan and David Zellner (Damsel, Fresh at 67%) will produce and helm the film, working from a script written by the latter, who calls the film “a genre mashup of sci-fi, action and comedy.”