Weekly Ketchup: Sam Worthington takes on Dracula, George Lucas takes on fairies

Plus "Weird Al" Yankovic talks about his next movie

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This week's Ketchup features stories about new roles for Sam Worthington, Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson, Zac Efron and Miley Cyrus, as well as new movies for the director of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and musician-turned-director... "Weird Al" Yankovic!


FRESH DEVELOPMENTS


#1 SAM WORTHINGTON: TERMINATOR, JAKE SULLY, PERSEUS AND NOW... DRACULA?

With Avatar now the top grossing worldwide release of all time, Sam Worthington is in talks with Universal Pictures to continue his impressive big-budget career with Dracula Year Zero, to be directed by Alex Proyas (Dark City, The Crow). Unlike the Vlad movie that Brad Pitt is producing, Dracula Year Zero is more of a fantasy story that mixes elements of the real Vlad the Impaler with Bram Stoker's Dracula character. That means you can probably expect many of the obligatory vampire aspects that we associate with Dracula, like turning into a bat or mist, though all that Proyas would confirm in 2008 was that the movie would feature "stakes and teeth... (and) ...lots and lots of blood!" Dracula is, of course, one of Universal's classic monsters, and this will be the first Universal movie to feature Dracula since 2004's disastrous flop Van Helsing. Dracula Year Zero was written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, who are also working together on the Flash Gordon reboot. Sam Worthington will also next be seen in the Clash of the Titans remake, John Madden's The Debt and Last Night, with Keira Knightley. In other Sam Worthington news, SlashFilm is reporting on a rumor that James Cameron is already signing up technical crew members for 3- to 5-year contracts to start work on (the previously reported) Avatar sequel.


#2 GEORGE LUCAS TO REVEAL FAIRIES GET THEIR MAGIC FROM MIDICHLORIANS?

George Lucas is venturing forth into the world of musicals with an untitled CGI animation film that is currently in preproduction at Skywalker Ranch. The only details that are currently known is that the musical involves fairies, and the music will come from a variety of sources. Kevin Munroe (TMNT and the upcoming Dead of Night) is directing from a script by David Berenbaum (Elf, The Haunted Mansion), and George Lucas is of course producing, and may have also come up with the movie's original story idea. This CGI musical joins Lucas' other current project that he is producing (but not directing), which is Red Tails, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, starring Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Method Man.



#3 THIS WEEK IN 3D: GREMLINS 3, GHOSTBUSTERS 3, HARRY POTTER 7 & 8,
CLASH OF THE TITANS

Although Avatar may have been a huge success even without it, much credit is being given to 3D for its box office records, and Hollywood is going crazy with ideas on how to make their next big movies jump on the 3D bandwagon. First up, there is the unconfirmed rumor via MarketSaw that the long-in-development Gremlins 3 project might be getting new life as a stereoscopic 3D project, as might Ghostbusters 3. In the more confirmed realm, there's also Warner Bros, which has moved the release date of Clash of the Titans back a week to April 2 to facilitate an adaptation to 3D. The studio is also now planning on releasing the two parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 3D when the movies are released on November 19, 2010 and July 15, 2011.


#4 MEL GIBSON: FROM ROAD WARRIOR TO COLD WARRIOR

With his latest film as an actor, Edge of Darkness, opening in theaters today, Mel Gibson was revealed this week to be in talks with Universal Pictures to reunite with Lethal Weapon screenwriter Shane Black on a project that Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) is directing. In Cold Warrior, Gibson would play an old-school spy who has to come out of retirement to deal with a domestic terrorism threat originating from Russia, and he has to team up with a young agent in the process. Shane Black didn't write Cold Warrior, however, which comes from a new screenwriter named Charles Mondry. There's no word yet on when Cold Warrior will film, but it is likely to be after this summer's filming of How I Spent My Summer Vacation, and Gibson also has plans to direct Leonardo DiCaprio in an untitled Viking project. Before any of that, in addition to Edge of Darkness, Gibson has also already wrapped filming of The Beaver, the Jodie Foster-directed comedy about a guy whose best friend is a beaver puppet on his hand.


#5 WEIRD AL'S NEXT MOVIE IS PROBABLY NOT GANDHI 2

This week comedic musician and sometime actor "Weird Al" Yankovic revealed that he has signed a deal with Cartoon Network in which he agreed to provide all sorts of possible content for them, including TV series, animation and a live-action feature film, which is the first thing he's doing. Yankovic hasn't really revealed too many details about the movie, except that it is not a sequel to UHF, it's a comedy and the star will be a teenager. Weird Al will make an appearance in the movie, and a big part of this story is that it's the first time he's going to direct a feature film (he's directed lots of TV stuff already).




#6 ROBERT DE NIRO TO REGAIN HIS CAPE FEAR ACCENT AS GEORGE WALLACE IN SELMA?

In a story about Robert De Niro switching agencies, Deadline Hollywood also broke the news about two new projects (in addition to a few others that had previously been announced). The first bit of news concerns Selma, the new project from Precious director Lee Daniels about desegregation, with De Niro reportedly in line to play infamous Alabama Governor George Wallace. The other new role that is a bit unexpected is a sequel to Midnight Run, the very funny 1988 fugitive comedy with Charles Grodin, in which De Niro played a bounty hunter escorting an accountant who's embezzled money from a Las Vegas gangster. Among De Niro's other upcoming roles are Little Fockers (the third in the Meet the Parents series), Stone (with Edward Norton) and Robert Rodriguez's Machete (all of which are wrapped) and a role in the awesomely-titled Another Night in Suck City.


#7 ZAC EFRON PICKS UP NEW SPY AND TIME TRAVEL MOVIES

Zac Efron is looking to make the transition from being a teen TV sensation to being an actual grown up movie star with the news this week of two new projects. First up, at Universal there is Fire, an adaptation of a graphic novel by Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man) about a college student who is recruited by the CIA, only to discover that he is being trained for a program that creates expendable field agents. Bendis is adapting his own comic. Meanwhile, at Warner Bros, Efron has signed on for an untitled time travel movie that is in the vein of Back to the Future, and which blends together a project called Algorithm with an untitled pitch.



#8 OMG! MILEY AND DEMI LOL

Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore are in talks to star as a daughter-mother pair in the English language remake of the 2008 hit French comedy LOL: Laughing Out Loud. Cyrus will play a 15-year-old who is dumped by her boyfriend, so she pursues his best friend, while her recently divorced mother struggles to "maintain a civil relationship with her daughter." Lisa Azuelos, who wrote and directed the original French movie (starring Sophie Marceau) will also write and direct this English-language remake.



#9 WOLVERINE DIRECTOR HEADING BACK NORTH

Gavin Hood, the director of Rendition and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is in talks with Walden Media (Tooth Fairy, The Chronicles of Narnia) to direct an untitled adaptation of the non-fiction book The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic. The book tells the true story of the 1925 journey that is now commemorated each year by the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. In 1925, 20 men and 200 dogs rushed across a 674 mile distance of wilderness to deliver an emergency shipment of diptheria antidote to Nome, Alaska, braving temperatures of minus 60 degrees. The book was adapted by Sean O'Keefe and Will Staples, who haven't yet had a feature film produced, but did cowrite together the video games Lair and Pursuit Force. The project, which was formerly known as Ice Bound (when it was in development at the now defunct Miramax Films), is tentatively scheduled to start filming this summer.


ROTTEN IDEA OF THE WEEK


#1 EAT, SLEEP, POOP, DREAM, WORK

Just two weeks after Lionsgate put an adaptation of the pregnancy self help book What to Expect When You're Expecting into development, DreamWorks has also stepped in with a similar project. They've picked up the rights to Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby's First Year by Beverly Hills pediatrician Scott W. Cohen, which will be first published on March 30, 2010. Eat, Sleep, Poop is being adapted as a comedy by screenwriters Matt Allen and Caleb Wilson (cowriters of Four Christmases). This story gets the Rotten Idea tag for the same reason that What to Expect When You're Expecting did, which is that non-fiction self help books don't seem like the best source for movie material, since there is no inherent story in them other than a loose concept and a catchy title.


For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS through his MySpace page or via a RT forum message.

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