This Week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering such titles as The Flash, Kraven the Hunter, and Gucci.
Although “SPUMC” is a pretty clumsy abbreviation, Sony Pictures does indeed have a massive “Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters” slate planned. In addition to Venom and the upcoming Morbius (3/19/2021, delayed from 7/10/2021 because of COVID-19), the SPUMC development slate currently includes: Jackpot, Kraven the Hunter (see story below), Madame Web, Nightwatch, Silk, and The Sinister Six. One of the most talked about stories of the week was the announcement that Sony Pictures has officially hired actress-turned-director Olivia Wilde for an “untitled female-centric Marvel movie.” Most of the stories about Wilde’s hiring speculate that the secret project is probably Spider-Woman, A.K.A. Jessica Drew, who debuted in the comics in 1977, before soon after getting her own Saturday morning cartoon (which you can now watch on Disney+). It’s also possible that Olivia Wilde’s project could be about another “Spider” woman hero, like Silk, Ghost-Spider (A.K.A. Spider-Gwen), Madame Web, or someone never mentioned for a movie before like Spider-Girl or Araña (Peter Parker has got a lot of female counterparts). Olivia Wilde’s next project as director will be a thriller called Don’t Worry Darling, starring Florence Pugh, Dakota Johnson, Shia LaBeouf, and Chris Pine.
We’ve known for some time that the long planned DC Comics solo movie for The Flash (starring Ezra Miller from Justice League) is likely to involve the popular Flashpoint storyline, in which The Flash’s attempt to change the past results in all sorts of “alternate reality” craziness. There have been recent rumors that The Flash could feature past Batman actors like Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck, but this week, we appeared to receive confirmation that both of them will indeed return as their versions of Batman. Let’s start with Ben Affleck, who at one point appeared to be “done” with playing Batman, especially when Twilight star Robert Pattinson signed on to star in the long-in-development The Batman (10/1/2021), which at one point was supposed to have starred Affleck. Affleck reportedly had “notes on the script” before he agreed to sign on to return in The Flash. (You can read much more speculation about the possible impact of this right here). As we said earlier, Affleck won’t be the only returning Batman, as Michael Keaton from the original 1989 Batman will also be coming back, in what is now being called a “substantial” role, versus what had previously been thought to just be a cameo of some sort. Although the COVID-19 pandemic obviously continues to have an impact on release dates, The Flash is currently scheduled for release on June 2, 2022.
Despite the ongoing love affair with 1980s movies, and the wave of remakes of 1980s movies, one of the most beloved directors of the 1980s — John Hughes — has basically been left untouched (Hughes wrote, but didn’t direct, the original Vacation, which was remade in 2015). That will likely soon change, as Paramount Pictures is now actively developing a remake of the 1987 classic Planes, Trains & Automobiles (Certified Fresh at 91%), starring Steve Martin and John Candy as fellow travelers who face a series of obstacles in their attempts to get home for Thanksgiving. The new Planes, Trains & Automobiles is being developed for Paramount by Will Smith’s Westbrook Studios and Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat Productions as a star vehicle for both of them. It’s unconfirmed which star will be reprising which role, but our money is on Smith to play the harried family man and Kevin Hart to play the sad-sack loner. Television writer Aeysha Carr (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fresh at 95%) has been hired to make her feature film debut adapting the film.
Some movies seem to be intended from their very inception as possible awards contenders, and from the day we first heard about Ridley Scott’s Gucci, starring Lady Gaga as Patricia Reggiani, it seemed like exactly that sort of film. Having said that, there’s “Oscar bait” and then there’s OSCAR BAIT, and you don’t get much more Oscar Baity than the casting coup Scott was able to manage this week. In addition to Lady Gaga’s three nominations and one Academy Award, and Ridley Scott’s four Academy Award nominations, the actors cast in Gucci this week have received a total of four Academy Award wins (for The Godfather Part II, Raging Bull, Scent of a Woman, and Dallas Buyers Club) and a grand total of twenty Academy Award acting nominations. The actors in question are Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, and Adam Driver (who’s no slouch either, with nominations for both BlackKklansman and Marriage Story). Boardwalk Empire star Jack Huston and Broadway star Reeve Carney are also in talks for roles. If both De Niro and Pacino do sign on for Gucci, it will be their fifth film acting together, following The Godfather Part II, Heat, Righteous Kill, and The Irishman. MGM currently has Gucci scheduled for release on November 24, 2021.
One of the most fun movie news stories of 2019 came in November (just before we entered the trainwreck that is 2020) when we first heard about The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, in which Nicolas Cage will play a fictionalized version of himself. This week, we learned that Cage’s co-star will be Pedro Pascal, who is coming off the Disney+ hit The Mandalorian and is scheduled to appear as villain Maxwell Lord in the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984. Pascal’s casting brings with it a better understanding of exactly what this movie will be about. Nicolas Cage will play “a washed up, unfulfilled, and financially impaired version of himself” who agrees to attend a birthday party of a super fan (Pedro Pascal) for a million dollars. The party soon turns “dangerously obsessive” as Cage must “must stay alive by recreating his most beloved moments as an actor.” (Keep in mind that this is the same guy who ate a cockroach for Vampire’s Kiss). We have yet to learn if any bees will be involved.
The news about the possible Spider-Woman movie sort of absorbed most of the Marvel movie attention this week, but there was actually major movement for another film to be set in the “Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters” (SPUMC). To start off, we should note that earlier this month, there was a rumor that Sony and Marvel were seeking a “Joel-Kinnaman-type” for Tom Holland’s third Spider-Man movie, which many interpreted as being for the role of old school Spidey villain Kraven the Hunter (also one of Spider-Man’s few classic villains who hasn’t yet been depicted in a live-action movie). We still don’t know if there are any plans to introduce Kraven in the next Spider-Man, but we do know that Sony is now developing a Kraven the Hunter movie, as the studio is now in talks with director J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year, Triple Frontier). Kraven the Hunter dates all the way back to 1964 and The Amazing Spider-Man #15, but the arguably definitive Kraven story arc is 1987’s Kraven’s Last Hunt (which may be part of the inspiration for the Kraven the Hunter movie as well). We should also note that there has been talk about Sony developing a Kraven the Hunter movie at least as far back as 2017 (along with Mysterio, who eventually made his debut in last year’s Spider-Man: Far from Home, played by Jake Gyllenhaal).
In addition to the aforementioned Planes, Trains & Automobiles remake, Kevin Hart’s HartBeat Production also made the news this week for partnering with NBA star Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder for a dramedy called American Sole. Pete Davidson (Saturday Night Live, The King of Staten Island) and O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton, and also Ice Cube’s son) are both attached to star in American Sole, which is set in the world of “after-market sneakers” as two college graduates who attempt to get out of debt by getting into the lucrative market of reselling sneakers for much higher markups (which reportedly is now estimated to be worth over $2 billion in sales each year). Camila Mendes, who plays Veronica Lodge on The CW’s Riverdale, also joined American Sole this week as the girlfriend of Pete Davidson’s character.
The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed all aspects of filmmaking, both in and out of Hollywood, but one of the more obvious examples is the Vikings epic The Northman, which had to shut down just a week before production was to start in March. This week, director Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse) was finally able to start principal production of The Northman on the elaborate sets that have been assembled in rural Ireland. Most of the epic’s cast had already been announced months ago, including Eggers’ The Lighthouse star Willem Dafoe, Anya Taylor-Joy from The Witch, Nicole Kidman, and brothers Alexander Skarsgård (HBO’s True Blood) and Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise from IT). The new addition this week was Icelandic pop star Bjork, who is reportedly playing a character called “The Slav Witch,” which… sort of makes sense (Bjork actually made her feature film debut 30 years ago in 1990 with the Icelandic witchcraft fairy tale The Juniper Tree).
There is an expression in comic book fandom that goes, “No one stays dead except Uncle Ben” (humorously, that saying used to include Bucky Barnes and Jason Todd, until they both got revived). The trope about dead characters eventually coming back for financial reasons also applies frequently to the movies (like, say, the slasher villains in the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises). So, one might have thought that Laurence Fishburne could be brought back as Morpheus in The Matrix 4, but this week, Fishburne clarified, “I have not been invited.” Also this week, Keanu Reeves spoke to press about the safety protocols on The Matrix 4 as production has resumed on sets in Germany. Filming had begun in February in San Francisco until moving on briefly to Berlin, but as with most film projects at the time, production of The Matrix 4 was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Keanu Reeves’ fellow cast members will include Carrie-Anne Moss and Jada Pinkett Smith (from the original trilogy) and newcomers Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (rumored to be playing the young Morpheus), Priyanka Chopra Jones, and Neil Patrick Harris. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to regularly cause release date changes, but for now, The Matrix 4 is scheduled for April 1st, 2022.
In March of this year, we first learned that the directors and producers of last year’s horror comedy Ready or Not (Certified Fresh at 88%) had signed on to direct the long-awaited sequel Scream 5. For the most part, casting until this week mostly involved the announcements of returning franchise stars Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott, David Arquette as Dewey Riley, and Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers-Riley. This week, two different young actresses were announced, starting with Melissa Barrera, who will be one of the stars of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights when that movie is eventually released in 2021 (delayed from this summer). Two days later, Jane the Virigin co-star Jenna Ortega also joined the cast. In related (and unsurprising) news, Samara Weaving also revealed this week that there had been a moment this year when she almost was cast by her Ready or Not collaborators in Scream 5, saying, “We were talking about it, but our schedules aren’t gonna work, which is a bummer.” Scream 5 is expected to be released sometime in 2021 (probably later in the year), and filming is expected to start in Wilmington, North Carolina, later this year.