This Week’s Ketchup brings you another eight headlines from the world of film development news (those stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next), covering up-and-coming titles like The Craft, Flash Gordon, Ghostbusters 2020, and Hello Kitty.
One concept that has been bouncing around Hollywood since the 1990s is a new version of the classic pulp sci-fi hero Flash Gordon. Besides the various Flash Gordon serials of the 1930s and 1940s, the last Flash Gordon movie was produced in 1980, as recently memorialized by Seth McFarlane in his comedy Ted. Now that 20th Century Fox is part of Disney’s properties, the studio is apparently working with one of their Marvel collaborators on reviving the Flash Gordon project. Taika Waititi, who had both a box office and critical hit with Thor: Ragnarok (Certified Fresh at 93%), is now attached to take a “crack” at adapting Flash Gordon not as a live action project, but as an animated film. It could be easily argued that animation might be the most exciting (and affordable) way to adapt an ambitious space opera like Flash Gordon, as his adventures take place on the fantastic planet Mongo, including such settings as the Ice Kingdom of Frigia, the underwater kingdom of the Shark Men, and the floating city of the Hawkmen. Taika Waititi will probably need a few years at least before Flash Gordon will be ready for release, especially since he is currently working on his next film, the World War II-set fantasy satire Jojo Rabbit (10/18/2019), in which Waititi will play a young boy’s imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (yes, really).
Marvel Studios hasn’t officially announced any films past next week’s Spider-Man: Far from Home (currently Certified Fresh at 91%), but we do know that they’re currently filming Black Widow, and the only other film currently casting up is The Eternals. (We can probably expect some official announcements at San Diego Comic-Con in a few weeks.) Like Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, The Eternals is sort of a “deep cut,” and it has never been one of their more popular titles despite dating back to 1976. The latest name to be mentioned for The Eternals is Salma Hayek, who recently wrapped filming of the sequel The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard with Marvel stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and Samuel L. Jackson. Angelina Jolie and Richard Madden (Robb Stark from Game of Thrones) are expected to star as long-time Avengers member Sersi and Eternals leader Ikaris, respectively. As their name suggests, Marvel’s The Eternals are long-lived beings who inspired various mythological figures.
For a while now, we’ve had to awkwardly refer to the next Ghostbusters (7/10/2020) as “Ghostbusters 3,” despite it being the fourth Ghostbusters (after the 2016 reboot), with the “3” being a reference to the fact that it’s a direct sequel to the first two movies. Ant-Man star Paul Rudd joined the sequel this week, which he himself confirmed through a Twitter video. In their story about Rudd’s casting, Variety also revealed that the film is now called Ghostbusters 2020. Rudd will reportedly be playing a teacher in Ghostbusters 2020, but the context for that role is still unknown, such as whether he’ll be the teacher of the new characters played by Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) or Mckenna Grace (Annabelle Comes Home), or perhaps is related to Carrie Coon’s mother character. These new characters are expected to be joined by original 1980s stars Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray, Annie Potts, and Sigourney Weaver.
The Enola Holmes Mysteries were a series of six young adult novels published from 2006 to 2010 that followed the adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister. Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown signed on in early 2018 to star as Enola Holmes, but it wasn’t until this week that we found out who’s going to be joining her as her older brother. Henry Cavill, former Superman of the DCEU, will co-star as detective Sherlock Holmes in the upcoming film, with Helena Bonham Carter also co-starring as her mother. (It’s unclear if that means that Carter’s also playing Sherlock’s mom.) Henry Cavill will also soon appear in Netflix’s series adaptation of the popular video game franchise The Witcher.
Netflix scored really well at the Academy Awards this year with Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, and the streaming service isn’t slowing down. Last year, Netflix began a five year deal with TV showrunner Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Feud), and this week, his first major project at Netflix was revealed with an impressive cast attached. Murphy is going to adapt the Tony-nominated Broadway musical The Prom, which he will direct in addition to producing. Murphy’s cast for The Prom will include Awkwafina, James Corden, Ariana Grande, Keegan-Michael Key, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and Andrew Rannells, who received a Tony nomination for his lead role in The Book of Mormon. Ryan Murphy is expected to start filming this December, aiming for an awards season release in late 2020.
Last month, Crazy Rich Asians star Constance Wu found herself at the center of a Twitter controversy after a Tweet interpreted by many as “apparent displeasure” about ABC renewing her sitcom Fresh Off the Boat for another season. In her apology, Constance Wu explained that her response was because the “renewal meant I had to give up another project that I was really passionate about.” We still don’t know what that mystery project was, but there is a possibility that might have been this week’s news, a novel adaptation called Goodbye, Vitamin. Wu is now attached to star in the “dramedy” for Universal Pictures as a daughter who fakes a class so that her history professor can continue to teach after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Over a decade before starring in this year’s superhero comedy Shazam! (Certified Fresh at 91%), Zachary Levi first shot to fame as the star of NBC’s Chuck, in which he played a regular guy who becomes embroiled in the secret world of international espionage. This week’s news therefore finds him coming full circle, as he will play a spy who has to recruit the assistance of his “regular guy” friends from college in the action comedy Spy Guys. The New Line Cinema comedy is being produced by Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island collaborators Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, who all originally started work on Spy Guys with the intent of it being a starring vehicle for Samberg (with Zachary Levi apparently taking that role instead). Spy Guys will be the second feature film from director Jeff Tomsic, who made his debut last year with the thematically similar “old friends reunion” comedy, Tag (Rotten at 56%).
Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, and Robin Tunney starred in the 1996 supernatural thriller The Craft (Rotten at 57%) as four teen girls who start practicing witchcraft. Now, some 23 years later, Blumhouse is developing a reboot of The Craft that will tell a new, contemporary version of the same story. The first young actress to join the reboot of The Craft is 21-year-old Cailee Spaeny, who is still relatively unknown despite featured roles in Bad Times at the El Royale and the giant robot sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising. This new version of The Craft will be directed by Zoe Lister-Jones, who made her directorial debut in 2017 with the indie rock musical Band Aid (Certified Fresh at 85%).
Director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) reportedly still wants to direct a sequel to Baby Driver someday, but until that project gets going, his next film will instead be a psychological thriller called Last Night in Soho. The premise is still being kept secret, but we do know that the stars will include Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split), Matt Smith (TV’s Doctor Who), and Thomasin Harcourt-McKenzie (Leave No Trace). This week, Wright further filled out the cast with three veteran English actors: Terence Stamp (The Limey, General Zod in Superman II); Diana Rigg (Olenna Tyrell from Game of Thrones); and Rita Tushingham (Doctor Zhivago). The other thing we know about Last Night in Soho is that it reportedly is set in two different timelines, so it’s possible that some of the older actors might be playing the same roles as the younger ones (but that’s just speculation).
Last month’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu isn’t quite a massive blockbuster ($425 million to date on a budget of $150 million), but as the first video game adaptation to maintain a Fresh Tomatometer rating in wide release (67% to date), it’s not an embarrassment, either. Much like The LEGO Movie did in 2014, Pokémon Detective Pikachu may have established a template for how similar concepts, especially from Japan, could be adapted in the near future. Sanrio’s Hello Kitty is not exactly a “video game” character, as it represents a brand in anime, games, manga, clothing, and accessories. New Line Cinema has the movie rights to Hello Kitty, and to get things going, the studio this week hired screenwriter Lindsey Beer, who doesn’t yet have a WGA feature film credit, but did work on Transformers: The Last Knight and the upcoming Masters of the Universe (3/5/2021).