Weekly Ketchup: Tom Cruise Signed to Van Helsing Reboot

Plus, new versions of Little Shop of Horrors, The Jungle Book, and Tarzan.

This week's Ketchup covered a week almost entirely comprised of reboots of old familiar concepts. Included in the mix are titles like The Jungle Book (this time in live action), Little Shop of Horrors (a third time), The Dukes of Hazzard (maybe), Tarzan (this time in 3D), and Van Helsing (yes, really). All that, and there's an animated sequel for The Wizard of Oz, too.


This Week's Top Story

TOM CRUISE TO REMAKE HUGH JACKMAN'S BIG FLOP FROM JUST 8 YEARS AGO: VAN HELSING

Sometimes, bizarre movie news stories emerge and then seem to disappear again so quickly that it seems to confirm they were indeed too crazy to ever be true. Such seemed to be the case in 2010 when there was talk about Tom Cruise possibly being involved in a remake of Van Helsing, the monster mash up flop released not that long ago in 2004. At the time, it looked like the project might have fallen apart because of Guillermo del Toro's departure following problems with Universal over the H.P. Lovecraft adaptation At the Mountains of Madness (which Tom Cruise was also attached to at the time). This week, a press release from Universal Pictures about a new deal with producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci for new versions of The Mummy and Van Helsing almost seemed to bury the lead, which is that Tom Cruise is indeed attached to star as Van Helsing. This story may seem like deja vu for another reason, as last week's top Weekly Ketchup story was also about Kurtzman and Orci, except last week it was about them signing on with Sony to be the writers of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Kurtzman and Orci's other credits include cowriting the first two Transformers movies and Cowboys & Aliens, and for receiving sole writing credit for the Star Trek reboot. As for Van Helsing himself, the character first appeared as a vampire hunter in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, but over the last 100 years, and especially in the 2004 film, his specialty has expanded to fighting off all types and brands of supernatural monsters, preferably while wearing preposterous hats and jackets.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT WANTS TO REOPEN LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who through Christopher Nolan's films Inception and The Dark Knight Rises is recently tight with Warner Bros, is now developing with the studio a third movie version of Little Shop of Horrors. If JGL's version goes forward, it will follow the original 1960 movie that starred a then-unknown Jack Nicholson, and the 1986 musical version starring Rick Moranis as nerdy florist Seymour. Little Shop of Horrors is of course the story of the wackiness that ensues when a giant man-eating plant named Audrey II grows and grows, becoming increasingly demanding for more human treats. The new version appears also to be planned as a musical, as one of the producers is Marc Platt, who produced the Broadway hit Wicked, and playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) has been hired to work on the screenplay adaptation.


#2 FROM THE HUNGER GAMES TO HOUDINI

Fans of The Hunger Games were understandly surprised when director Gary Ross decided not to sign to return for the sequel Catching Fire (which will be directed by Francis Lawrence of I Am Legend and Water for Elephants). This week, we found out that the project that Gary Ross may take on instead is something that might fit in better with his other previous films Pleasantville and Seabiscuit. Ross is in negotiations with Summit Entertainment to direct Houdini, a biopic about the life of the famous magician and escape artist Harry Houdini. This biopic is based upon the 2006 book The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. That book attracted attention for its depiction of Houdini as a spy for Great Britain, and for assisting the Secret Service and other police organizations. As such, Summit's adaptation is said to depict Harry Houdini as part Indiana Jones and part Sherlock Holmes, and the movie is expected to be as much an action-thriller as it is a straight biopic. The latest screenplay adaptation was by Noah Oppenheim, a producer of the TV series The Today Show and Hardball with Chris Matthews.


#3 EMMA WATSON AND JASON SEGEL WILL BE THERE TOO AT THE END OF THE WORLD

The End of the World is the new title of the post-apocalyptic comedy from writing partners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg which got its start as a YouTube trailer spoof called Jay and Seth Vs the Apocalypse. The premise of the movie is that it depicts various Hollywood celebrities as themselves as they hole up in a house with some sort of apocalypse being unleashed outside their door. This week, the cast grew a bit larger as Emma Watson (Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies), Jason Segel (The Muppets) and David Krumholtz (Numb3rs) all signed on to play themselves. Other actors also playing themselves in The End of the World include the original pair of Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel, as well as James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson. At one time, Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe was rumored to also be involved, but it looks like that plan may have been changed to include Emma Watson instead.


#4 GUILLERMO DEL TORO TO PRODUCE TRUE HORROR STORY THE BLOODY BENDERS

Guillemo del Toro is teaming up with Angry Films (Real Steel, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) to produce The Bloody Benders, a spec script based on a true horror story from the American wild west of the 1870s. The script comes from Adam Robitel, who is described as a protege of director Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns, Apt Pupil). The Bloody Benders tells the true story of a family who operated a hotel on the outskirts of the Kansas prairie, where they robbed and murdered their guests using a system of elaborate trap doors and hammer-to-the-skull type murder mechanisms. Guillermo del Toro is not expected to direct The Bloody Benders. The producers were reportedly attracted by the way the script combines genres: "Western, horror, thriller, and love story." This is the second project that GDT and Angry Films are developing together, as they are still trying to find a studio home for Del Toro's adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft horror adventure At the Mountains of Madness, in which Tom Cruise was once attached to star, back when it was being produced at Universal Pictures.


#5 HARRY POTTER SCREENWRITER REOPENS THE JUNGLE BOOK

Warner Bros has started development on a new live action adaptation of the 1894 children's literature anthology classic The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. For the task, the studio has hired screenwriter Steve Kloves, who is best known for his work on seven of the eight movies in the Harry Potter series. Steve Kloves will also direct, which will be a return long in the coming for him after last working on The Fabulous Baker Boys and Flesh and Bone in 1989 and 1993. The Jungle Book has, of course, been most famously adapted as the 1967 Walt Disney animated film. Curiously, this news from Warner Bros came just before another announcement from Disney itself, about a book that was itself written as an homage of sorts to The Jungle Book. Walt Disney Pictures has secured the rights to the 2008 Neil Gaiman children's book The Graveyard Book, which won the Newberry Medal. The Graveyard Book has been in development before, but Disney's involvement may be just what's needed to finally get the adaptation produced. The Graveyard Book tells the story of a boy raised in a graveyard, with his only friends being all the supernatural ghosts and creatures there (much like how Mowgli grew up in the jungle, and was friends with the animals).


#6 BERNADETTE PETERS AND LEA MICHELE FROM GLEE HEADLINE THE 3D CGI SEQUEL DOROTHY OF OZ

Dorothy of Oz is the title of an independently produced 3D CGI animated sequel to L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which of course, is most famous for being adapted as the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. This week, the voice cast was announced. Bernadette Peters, who recently guest-starred on the TV series Smash, will voice Glinda the Good Witch, with Megan Hilty, who played her daughter on Smash, voicing the China Princess. The voice of Dorothy Gale comes from another musical TV series, Glee, in the form of Lea Michele. Dorothy of Oz will depict what happens when Dorothy Gale returns to Oz to find that her friends (Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion) have disappeared, and Oz is in a state of decay (you can find out more at the official site http://www.dorothyofoz.com/). The rest of the voice cast includes Dan Aykroyd (The Scarecrow), Kelsey Grammer (The Tin Man), Jim Belushi (The Formerly Cowardly Lion), Martin Short (The Jester), Oliver Platt (Wiser), Hugh Dancy (Marshal Mallow) and Patrick Stewart (Tugg). Dorothy of Oz is being directed by Dan St. Pierre (Everyone's Hero, Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey).

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#3 ROBERT PATTINSON HUNTS SADDAM IN MISSION: BLACKLIST AND STEALS CARS IN ROVER

The Twilight Saga doesn't end until Breaking Dawn Part II comes out this fall on November 16, 2012, but the YA-friendly franchise's stars are continuing to line up new roles. This week was a big one for Robert Pattinson, who was announced as being in negotiations for two movies. First up is Mission: Blacklist, in which Robert Pattinson will portray real life military interrogator Eric Maddox, who was involved with the manhunt in Iraq for deposed dictator Saddam Hussein. The independent/European production will be directed by Jean-Stephane Sauvaire (Johnny Mad Dog), based on a script adapted by Erik Jendresen, cowriter of four episodes of the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers. Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce (Lockout, Memento) are also in negotiations to star in the Australian thriller Rover from director David Michod (Animal Kingdom). The premise came from an idea shared between Michod and actor Joel Edgerton, and goes like this, "Pearce will play a man who pursues a group of men who stole his car through the wild and rugged Australian Outback. Pattinson will play one of the thieves."


#2 THE WHOLE REBOOTING-2000S-MOVIES THING MIGHT GIVE US ANOTHER RIDE IN THE GENERAL LEE

When Sony Pictures decided to reboot a franchise which at the time was only eight years old (2002's Spider-Man), the studio may have started a new trend: recent reboots. Instead of having to wait decades, studios now are starting to feel comfortable, it appears, with restarting within a range of less than ten years (see this week's top story). The next example of this may be the latest film from writer/director Jody Hill (Observe and Report). Jody Hill is currently writing an untitled project for Warner Bros, which is set in the American South of the 1970s, and is reportedly "inspired by the style of Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch)." And now here's the really crazy part... depending upon the results, Hill's script could be rebranded as a reboot of The Dukes of Hazzard. Originally an action comedy TV series on CBS from 1979 to 1985, The Dukes of Hazzard also became a movie in 2005 starring Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott and Jessica Simpson. If WB does decide to move forward with this Dukes of Hazzard reboot, it will clearly be a very different movie, based just on the allusion to Sam Peckinpah. This story is a borderline Rotten Idea that can probably be best evaluated based on how much one wants to see The Dukes of Hazzard given another chance. Another factor might also be whether or not you agree with the "Rotten" 51% RT Tomatometer score that Jody Hill's first film Observe and Report received.


#1 THE STARS OF TARZAN 3D SWING IN FROM THE TWILIGHT AND RESIDENT EVIL FRANCHISES

Constantin Film is a German production company and distributor best known for its genre films such as the Resident Evil franchise, the Fantastic Four movies (including Roger Corman's 1994 version) and the recent 3D version of The Three Musketeers. One of Constantin Film's most ambitious upcoming projects is a CGI motion capture adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan, which comes hot on the heels of another recent ERB adaptation that featured a lot of motion capture CGI work, John Carter. This week, we learned who will be putting on all those little ping pong ball things as Tarzan and Jane for director Reinhard Klooss (Animals United). Kellan Lutz, who played Emmett Cullen in the Twilight movies, will play Tarzan, and Spencer Locke (yes, she's a girl), who played K-Mart in two of the Resident Evil movies, will play Jane. And now, here's where you find out why this movie is the week's Most Rotten Idea. This version of Tarzan, which is being called Tarzan 3D, completely updates Edgar Rice Burroughs' story for the 21st century, with a villain who is the new CEO of Greystoke Energies, the man who took over the company run by Tarzan's deceased parents. Here's some more, quoted from The Hollywood Reporter, "In the script, Jane is the daughter of an African guide and is committed to the conservation and preservation of the African jungle. She eventually works with Tarzan to defeat the mercenary army of Greystoke Energies." It's also worth noting that Tarzan 3D should not be confused with Warner Bros' plans to also reboot the Tarzan franchise.

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

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