Weekly Ketchup: Johnny Depp to play Tonto in The Lone Ranger

Plus a bevy of sequels from Disney.

The villain in this summer's The Incredible Hulk was the Abomination, and that sums up a lot of what is going on in this week's Ketchup. There's one great bit of casting news to start us off, but from there, and a couple of possibly interesting projects, but for the most part, get ready for lots of sequels and remakes.


#1 THE LONE RANGER: YOU WILL HEAR JOHNNY DEPP SAY "KEMOSABE"

Walt Disney Pictures had a big publicity blow out this week to celebrate their slate for the next few years (see #6 below for more on that), and the big news they broke at the event was the reveal that Johnny Depp has signed on to star as Tonto in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced relaunch of The Lone Ranger, the classic masked cowboy adventure franchise. Now, before you get too excited about political correctness, Depp is reported to have both Cherokee and Navajo ancestry, which I guess makes him the most successful Native American actor, sort of like how Keanu Reeves is the most successful Asian American actor. Soon after this news broke, AICN received a tip about who might be starring with Depp as the title character: George Clooney. If that's true, this movie just jumped up highly on my anticipation scale, because both Clooney and Depp are funny, charismatic screen presences, and the two of them as one of the most classic movie pairs ever, could actually be a really entertaining thing to watch. Disney also confirmed Depp's casting as the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie, but we already knew about that a couple of months ago (unofficially).


#2 I AM LEGEND PREQUEL: I WILL BE LEGEND?

Warner Bros is moving forward with plans for a prequel to their very successful Will Smith vampire movie, I Am Legend, which will be a prequel showing what Smith's character, Robert Neville, was doing in New York City when the plague broke loose. Now, I enjoyed I Am Legend, but a prequel? That would sort of be like if Danny Boyle decided to make a movie called something like 28 Hours Later, showing what happened while Cillian Murphy was in the coma, yeah? In both movies, what makes it work is *not* knowing the exact details of how everything came to a crashing halt, but seeing the creepy aftermath. It's called nuance, and it worked. It's hard to see this apocallyptic prequel as being anything other than a cash in.


#3 MOBY DICK TO BE REMADE AS FLASHY ACTION MOVIE: CALL ME ISHTAR

You know why the annual April Fool's Day jokes movie writer guys like me are so easy to come up with? Because of real stories like this. Wanted director Timur Bekmanbetov has signed with Universal to make a new movie version of one of the greatest novels ever penned: Moby-Dick, or The Whale, by Herman Melville. At first glance, I was like, cool, Moby Dick! And then I read that article. First off, the writers are Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, whose only credits are the college comedy Accepted and the Olsen twins vehicle, New York Minute. Absorb that. Those guys are going to adapt Moby Dick? Saying their vision of the project is more "graphic novel", what they're really saying, in code, is that their movie will be like a comic book. Gone is Ishmael's narration, and instead, they will focus on action scenes involving the ships that encountered the great beast prior to Ahab and the Pequod entering the picture. And Ahab will be a "charismatic leader" rather than, you know, a raving lunatic. I don't have enough space in this column to address how wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong this whole concept is. My closing thought? "From hell's heart, I stab at thee, for hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee."


#4 MGM CONTINUES ITS 1980S REMAKE OBSESSION WITH DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS

MGM this year is going "1980s remake" crazy with projects like Robocop, Red Dawn, Fame and Poltergeist, and this week, they added another beloved classic to the mix: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the clever 1988 con man comedy that originally starred Steve Martin and Michael Caine. That movie was itself a remake of the 1964 film, Bedtime Story, starring Marlon Brando and David Niven, but the difference, I think, is that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a movie that people still talk about (I actually didn't even know about the Brando movie until this week). Anyway, MGM has hired writer/director Steve Pink (cowriter of High Fidelity; director of Accepted) to work on this third version, wihch will again be about two con men in the South of France attempting to swindle a wealthy American woman. There aren't that many British comedians at the top of their game these days. I wonder if Simon Pegg will be cast?


#5 STEVEN SPIELBERG: RETURNING TO THE SCI-FI KIDS GENRE ?

DreamWorks has acquired the rights to Chocky, a 1968 sci-fi novel by John Wyndham (The Day of the Triffids), with an eye towards it possibly being a directorial project for Steven Spielberg. Adapted in the 1980s as a British TV series (which apparently is remembered by Brits as being quite creepy), Chocky is about a pre-teen boy with an imaginary friend, who is soon discovered to be an alien being living inside the boy's consciousness. Mysterious government forces get involved, no doubt wielding walkie talkies instead of guns. Spielberg is sort of notorious for always having a large slate of movies, but the recent fall out between DreamWorks and Paramount has led to many of them (Lincoln, The 39 Clues, etc) potentially tied up at Paramount until deals can be made to free them, so that may explain why the famed director may be looking for new projects to work on until he can get back the rights to those projects (if that is indeed the case). Also in the mix are is the recent news that the Tintin trilogy Spielberg is working on with Peter Jackson recently hit a financing snag, with Universal dropping out of financing the $130 million project. And so, enter: Chocky.


#6 DISNEY BETS THE MOUSE ON MORE SEQUELS

At the same event where Walt Disney Pictures revealed the Johnny Depp/Lone Ranger news, they also talked up all their upcoming movies, which include the news that they are "actively developing" National Treasure 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 4 and Wild Hogs 2: Bachelor Ride. I don't know what to say, except that all three projects just smack of commercial convenience, rather than taking all that money and making new original concept movies. That's partly because I am not a fan of any of those three movies/franchises, I guess. National Treasure was just a boatload of convoluted dumb, I thought. The first PotC movie was surprisingly funny, but the two sequels lacked its charm. And I didn't bother to see Wild Hogs. Did you?


#7 FATHOM NETS ITS FOX

IESB.net is reporting that the long-in-development movie version of the Top Cow comic, Fathom, is finally moving ahead again, despite the recent death of its creator, Michael Turner. The big news, however, is that the project, which is now at Fox Atomic (instead of 20th Century Fox proper), is set to star Transformers star Megan Fox, with the project out to writers to customize the role for her. Fathom is sort of an odd fish of a comic. Basically a female version of Aquaman and/or Sub-Mariner, Fathom has the explotional feel on first look of a "Bad Girl" comic, but unlike most of the titles in that genre... it's actually a pretty good read. The character of Aspen that Fox will be playing is this young amnesiac woman who is found at sea as a young girl, and as she grows up, she discovers she's a really good swimmer. The comic grounds Aspen in the real world so it doesn't come across as kitschy as it could. What the movie will be like, however... who knows.


#8 NICOLAS CAGE: WITCH RIDER

Nicolas Cage is reteaming with his Gone in 60 Seconds director, Dominic Sena (Kalifornia, Swordfish), on a 14th century thriller called Season of the Witch, from a script by Bragi Schut (creator of the Threshold TV show). Cage will play a knight who is tasked with escorting a girl suspected of being the witch responsible for the Black Plague. Tag this one under bizarre casting. Does anyone think Nicolas Cage looks or talks like a 14th century knight? I'm sure he'll have a bizarre wig in this one too. That's sort of his thing.





#9 KEIRA KNIGHTLEY TO BE BEAUTIFUL FOR F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

Keira Knightley, this decade's queen of period flick chicks, has signed on for another one this week, in the form of The Beautiful and the Damned, which is about the 1920s Jazz Era romance between authors F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre (later, Fitzgerald, not to spoil the movie or anything). Her drunk romantic interest hasn't been cast yet. My only reservation about this movie is that Zelda was distinctly American (Alabama!), so Keira's going to have to rein in her accent a bit, and possibly play Southern, to boot. Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook) is directing, with filming expected to start in April, 2009.





#10 THE SIMS: INFINITY PACK

Speaking to Collider.com, producer John Davis revealed the premise for the movie version of The Sims video game that he is currently developing. It's about a teenager who gets his hands on a special expansion for the game called The Sims: Infinity Pack, which he discovers allows the game to control and create things in the real world. The interview compares it to Weird Science, but I'd say there's a touch of The Matrix in there too (in reverse).


You can contact Greg Dean Schmitz via a message at the RT Forums, the thread there devoted to him, or his MySpace page.

Comments

yankeessuck.zach

Zach Williamson

please no I Am Legend prequal!

Sep 26 - 05:35 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

agreed, they already ruined the book now do they have to piss on its grave. I dig the Mody Dick idea, its a fresh new take and I like the Director. Also do wee need a ****ing Pirates 4?!?

Sep 26 - 06:00 PM

dank1134

kelly reed

greg

im so flipping stoked you're still doing your thing on the web.. are you ever going to get your own site again?? man alive that was my favorite of all time

kelly

myspace.com/redmeansred

Sep 26 - 05:39 PM

greg_dean_schmitz

Greg Dean Schmitz

About Johnny Depp as Tonto, maybe they will just tweak the character a bit to make him an outcast because he's a "half breed"? That's a pretty common Western/cowboy motiff, and would basically explain away Depp's casting, yes?

So, who is the cooler upcoming classic pairing? Downey/Law or Clooney/Depp?

Sep 27 - 06:03 AM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

agreed, they already ruined the book now do they have to piss on its grave. I dig the Mody Dick idea, its a fresh new take and I like the Director. Also do wee need a ****ing Pirates 4?!?

Sep 26 - 06:00 PM

piratefan60

Donna Storey

The Lone Ranger Can't wait to see Johnny in buckskin. He is a great actor. His roles my not please the critics, but he can act. I wonder who will be the Lone Ranger? Hi ho Silver away.

Sep 26 - 06:14 PM

vitajex

Mike M

There was already some crazy Japanese anime version of Moby Dick.

Well, actually are any Japanese anime's not crazy? I guess that's redundant...

I guess I'm on my own when I say that Megan Fox is the least attractive hottie out there. To clarify, she's physically attractive, but something about her makes my stomach churn.

And I can't wait for The Sims movie. I love sleeping in empty theaters...

Sep 26 - 07:12 PM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

Depp IS part Cherokee.

Megan Fox in . . .drooooooooool.......... do

the most important question of any film in a while.

Do we. . .

I am serious about this!

I base this on studying film in college, reading scripts, etc. ,


. . . see boobs?

Sep 26 - 07:52 PM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

HI! I am tomwaitsjr's secret girlfriend. . . from Canada!

I'm wondering about Fathom.

Do we get to see ***?

THank You.

and again, I'm not tomwaitsjr. Just his secret girlfriend from Russia.

Sep 26 - 07:54 PM

blattman

Mike Greenblatt

I've seen Bedtime Story, and it was good. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was great and even made a good musical for Broadway. Why remake the movie? What more could be brought to the story?

Sep 26 - 07:56 PM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

The problem in America with films, is that we are now of a generation that doesn't want to see "old" movies. They are technically inept. So, many refuse to watch films of the 80's in droves.

That's why DRS is a smart way to go. It'll be cheap as hell to make. I only PRAY that Dane Cook isn't one of the main characters.

Sep 26 - 08:36 PM

americandream50

tim close

Looks like I'll be staying home this season. OK, maybe re-making movies isn't such a bad idea; maybe instead of copyright infringement they could re-package it as "sampling". Nostalgia has never worked for me; when they revived the 50's for "Grease" & "American Grafitti", nobody I know attended sock-hops in their poodle skirts or slicked their hair back. I guess the motto for Hollywood is "everything old (and Boring) is new and improved. I won't be in line for the "Citizen Kane" remake, even if Phillip Seymor Hoffman plays Charles Foster Kane(and he probably could pull it off). Like wise, I won't be there for the "screen adaptation" of Gilligan's Island. Please, someone tell the movie studios to fund something "NEW"!!! Stop insulting the intelligence of the movie-goer with something mundane as cancelled TV shows (we have TV Land) and stimulate our concious with something entertaining. By the way, I have never paid to watch a sequel in a movie theater, and with the current state of choices, I will never start now!

Sep 26 - 08:54 PM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

"One will never go broke understimating the intelligence of the American Audience."


-Jesus

Sep 26 - 11:36 PM

Floor Man

Floor Man

Wow...this is the news has made me most intrigued/uncomfortable.

Sep 27 - 12:06 AM

mobetta

moses ball

i just pray they don't let Johnny Depp wear make up to darken his skin a la old John Wayne films. And there are good Native American actors out there who could hold the role. Just because he has some native blood doesn't necessarily make him the best actor for the role. That's like saying Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson should be able to play Barrack Obama in a film because he's half African American. Though seeing Obama lay the smack down on McCain would be entertaining!

Sep 27 - 04:14 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Really?!? Do you honestly believe that's true? OK, convince me. Name one Indian(I use the term not to be derogative to those peoples, but because personally I find the term Native American offensive to myself and my ancestors who were born of this country and fought, scraped and bled to make it the great nation it is today and noone elses white hippie delusions and guilt is going to make me think different) actor who has the credability, name recognition or BO history of Johnny Depp. Better yet name for me one full blooded Indian actor without using statements like "That one guy from Dances with Wolves" or "That kid from Windtalkers"...googling it is cheating as well. The simple truth is Indians and Indian actors make up such a small portion of the overall population that it becomes necessary to cast people of mixed or completely different races in order to insure a quality product/

Additionally I think it's a sad statement on our society's inherent racism that these discussion only seem to come up when A. they want to change an acknowledged white character to another race or B. Some American white guy wants to play another race. Where was the outcry when Antonio Banderas or worse yet Anthony Hopkins or Cathrine Zeta Jones play Mexicans? Did I miss the part in the history books where the British and Spanish built their empires thru a campaign of sunshine and rainbows?

Bottom line, affirmative action has no place in Hollywood. The best man should be chosen for his ability to pull off the job regardless of race color creed or political affiliation.

Sep 27 - 07:14 AM

-apocolyptic-

chris armit

Grahmn Greene

Sep 27 - 01:42 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Very nice, also Wes Studi, he played Maqua in last of the mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis, but you're kinda proven my point. When you said Graham Green most people on here probably thought "The guy from Battlestar Galactica is Indian?" Not really to the same level as Johnny Depp. Definately closer to the Richard Grieco level. Seriously, talk about divergent career paths.

Sep 28 - 08:42 AM

JUDGE DREDD

idle one kenobi

CLOONEY As THE LONE RANGER..... YES!!!!!!

The Lone Ranger, is the Batman that Clooney SHOULD have played!
Not sure about a white Tonto though. And i hope its not a camp version ala batman & robin. I read a gritty adult Lone Ranger comic that was more like a vigilante version of Tombstone or 3.10 to yuma. Hope the film goes that route.

Also, Lone Ranger is the only film mentioned above that interests me.

Sep 27 - 05:15 AM

greg_dean_schmitz

Greg Dean Schmitz

About Johnny Depp as Tonto, maybe they will just tweak the character a bit to make him an outcast because he's a "half breed"? That's a pretty common Western/cowboy motiff, and would basically explain away Depp's casting, yes?

So, who is the cooler upcoming classic pairing? Downey/Law or Clooney/Depp?

Sep 27 - 06:03 AM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

Jude Law is suck. Him in films = no money for film. Poo Hooh Boo blah.

Audience no like the Jude Law.


All Depp has to do is keep drinking,
he's naturally jaundiced that way.

Wobba Wobba Wobba

Me Kemosabe
You tin can
Me Kemosabe
You Happy Goat
Me Kemosabe
Gimme some Stone Fischer
GIMME NOW

Sep 27 - 06:30 AM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

Do any of you think Johnny Depp is a leprachuan?

'cause if he isn't,
I'm in BIG twubble. . .

(huntin wabbits)

Sep 27 - 06:51 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Really?!? Do you honestly believe that's true? OK, convince me. Name one Indian(I use the term not to be derogative to those peoples, but because personally I find the term Native American offensive to myself and my ancestors who were born of this country and fought, scraped and bled to make it the great nation it is today and noone elses white hippie delusions and guilt is going to make me think different) actor who has the credability, name recognition or BO history of Johnny Depp. Better yet name for me one full blooded Indian actor without using statements like "That one guy from Dances with Wolves" or "That kid from Windtalkers"...googling it is cheating as well. The simple truth is Indians and Indian actors make up such a small portion of the overall population that it becomes necessary to cast people of mixed or completely different races in order to insure a quality product/

Additionally I think it's a sad statement on our society's inherent racism that these discussion only seem to come up when A. they want to change an acknowledged white character to another race or B. Some American white guy wants to play another race. Where was the outcry when Antonio Banderas or worse yet Anthony Hopkins or Cathrine Zeta Jones play Mexicans? Did I miss the part in the history books where the British and Spanish built their empires thru a campaign of sunshine and rainbows?

Bottom line, affirmative action has no place in Hollywood. The best man should be chosen for his ability to pull off the job regardless of race color creed or political affiliation.

Sep 27 - 07:14 AM

-apocolyptic-

chris armit

Grahmn Greene

Sep 27 - 01:42 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Very nice, also Wes Studi, he played Maqua in last of the mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis, but you're kinda proven my point. When you said Graham Green most people on here probably thought "The guy from Battlestar Galactica is Indian?" Not really to the same level as Johnny Depp. Definately closer to the Richard Grieco level. Seriously, talk about divergent career paths.

Sep 28 - 08:42 AM

preyer

terry barker

'OK, maybe re-making movies isn't such a bad idea; maybe instead of copyright infringement they could re-package it as "sampling".'

obviously they have the rights to make a movie.

'Nostalgia has never worked for me; when they revived the 50's for "Grease" & "American Grafitti", nobody I know attended sock-hops in their poodle skirts or slicked their hair back.'

your point being that every movie made has to have a legion of fans that live the part? i doubt middle-aged women will flock to rodanthe, either, but that's not the point of the setting.

'I guess the motto for Hollywood is "everything old (and Boring) is new and improved.'

probably why you'll never work in hollywood is because of statements like this. mainstream movies is a for-profit venture. were you in some decision-making position, you'd do the same because these movies make money. you don't pay a star $15M because you like them, but because of their box office draw. you stick to formulaic storytelling and tried-and-true premises because that's what people pay to see. you do remakes and resurrect old tv shows and movies because it's a brand name people trust/like, not because you don't have brilliant ideas which are untested and people won't go watch.
why risk millions of dollars, not to mention your job, making 'new' movies when you can guarantee buzz and have a built-in fan base? that's why movie studios so often use comics and books as a basis, because there's an audience waiting for it to happen. trust me, the masses aren't waiting for your ideas to come to fruition unless they're amazing... and they probably ain't.

'Please, someone tell the movie studios to fund something "NEW"!!! Stop insulting the intelligence of the movie-goer with something mundane as cancelled TV shows (we have TV Land) and stimulate our concious with something entertaining.'

hollywood funds 'new' stuff, you just choose not to include them. instead, you're focusing on just the movies that proves your point... well, proves your point to yourself, at any rate. there's no insulting going on ~ and if you feel insulted, just don't pay to watch it, it's that simple. this isn't the NFL where parity provides profit to even the worst teams. if moviegoers were that insulted, the numbers would reflect it and hollywood would change its tactics. you want entertainment *and* something new? new meaning untested. and you feel as if this is the right course to take, to chance your job and millions of dollars on a continued stream of movies without a fan base or built-in audience of any kind, that by virtue of being 'new' people will flock to it? HW would clock your tenure in nanoseconds. you want something entertaining *and* stimulating? walk up to your post office counter and say, 'i need to ship this package the fastest, cheapest way possible,' and wait for the laughter, because that's akin to what you're asking from hollywood to produce and the worldwide population to purchase.

'By the way, I have never paid to watch a sequel in a movie theater, and with the current state of choices, I will never start now!'

so, if you don't pay, do you just pirate them off the net? or just don't watch any sequels ever, which puts you in an even more ignorant position to judge than you're already in?

in short, if you think hollywood (for lack of a better term) never produces 'new' stuff then you need to open your eyes wider and shut your mouth more maybe. under the illusion you're promoting, movies like 'no country for old men' don't exist, nor is there any value to 'the dark knight.'

Sep 27 - 08:23 AM

ironmanstarks

jeff johnson

No Country was based off of a book.

Sep 27 - 08:31 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Someone always has to ruin a perfectly good rant with their damn logic and facts :)

Sep 27 - 09:16 AM

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