Weekly Ketchup: Will Tom Cruise Be The Man From U.N.C.L.E.?

Plus, news for X-Men and Captain America, as well as a reboot of Pete's Dragon

This week's Ketchup includes movie development news for reboots of Escape from New York, Hercules, and Pete's Dragon, the next X-Men and Captain America movies, and new roles for Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman, and Robert Redford.


This Week's Top Story

TOM CRUISE: FROM MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE TO THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.?

When both George Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh dropped out, it may have seemed like Warner Bros' attempt at a movie based on the 1960s spy TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was never going to happen. This week, however, the adaptation received new life, and it came from an unlikely source, considering what people were saying about the Mission: Impossible franchise just a few years ago. Tom Cruise is now in talks to take on the lead role as Napoleon Solo, who was originally played by Robert Vaughn in the TV series. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is about an international team of espionage agents who work together to fight evil that transcends national differences. Guy Ritchie, who is a Warner Bros darling following the success of the two Sherlock Holmes films, replaced Steven Soderbergh as director.



Fresh Developments This Week

#1 BEN AFFLECK MAY CONTINUE HIS BOSTON OBSESSION WITH BUNKER HILL

This story combines two obvious trending factors about Ben Affleck. The first is that Warner Bros wants to continue working with Ben Affleck as a director following the award season success of Argo. The second is that Affleck loves making movies in any way related to his beloved Boston. Combine those together this week and what you get is the news that Warner Bros has acquired the screen rights to the upcoming non-fiction book Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution, by Nathaniel Philbrick. And they want you-know-who to direct it. Indeed, the project is being produced by Pearl Street Films, the production company of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Affleck hasn't yet officially signed on as director, but another Argo participant has, in the form of screenwriter Chris Terrio, who will now start working on adapting this Revolutionary War story into a modern screenplay.


#2 HUGH JACKMAN'S FIRST POST-LES MISERABLES DEAL HOPEFULLY WON'T TAKE SIX YEARS TO PRODUCE

Ben Affleck wasn't the only actor featured on Oscar night to make a deal this week. Hugh Jackman has signed with Paramount Pictures to star in an adaptation of the upcoming Harlan Coben novel Six Years. Paramount landed Six Years in a bidding war that included 20th Century Fox, where Jackman has a strong history, including the X-Men franchise. The premise of Six Years involves a man whose great love marries another man, and then six years later, he discovers that the man has died, and that his widow is not the woman he was expecting her to be, which makes him question what he did with the last six years of his life. Harlan Coben's novels have only once been previously adapted as a film (2006's French film Tell No One, an English language adaptation of which Ben Affleck is attached to direct for Warner Bros from a script by Argo writer Chris Terrio). I couldn't make this "stuff" up.


#3 ROBERT REDFORD IN TALKS TO COSTAR IN CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

There's already been lots of casting for the Marvel sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which starts filming soon, so this story came as a bit of a surprise, especially considering it involves something of a Hollywood legend. Robert Redford is in talks to costar in a role that is being described as a "senior leadership role in S.H.I.E.L.D." In recent times, there are really only two such characters that Robert Redford would seem an obvious choice to play, and one of them is already played by Samuel L. Jackson. The other is Dum Dum Dugan, who was played by Neal McDonough in the previous film Captain America: The First Avenger. So, until we hear otherwise, this writer thinks the smart money is probably on Redford being cast as the "70 years later" version of Dum Dum Dugan, big mustache and bowler hat and all. Of course, the obvious rebuttal to that theory is that Robert Redford isn't THAT old... or maybe that Redford's role as Dugan will be set sometime in the past, which is a possibility, considering the story being adapted. And then, of course, there's the chance that Redford will be playing any of several other high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. officials. Walt Disney Pictures has scheduled Captain America: The Winter Soldier for April 4, 2014.


#4 COLOSSUS AND BLINK CONFIRMED FOR X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

This is actually a news story that came out last Friday, just minutes after last week's "Ketchup" was submitted for publication, but this writer just really, really likes the X-Men movies, apparently, so here it is 7 days later, despite a pretty busy news week. The story got its start with a "Twitter" post from director Bryan Singer which included an image of X-Men: Days of Future Past casting photos on a wall, and three of them were news items. First, there was Daniel Cudmore, who played Colossus in two of Singer's previous films. Colossus is also the big romantic interest for Kitty Pryde, who will be played once again by Ellen Page, and who is a big part of the original "Days of Future Past" storyline. Next up, there is Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, who wins this week's prize for Most Awesome/Ridiculous Actual Name, and who has also reportedly been cast as Blink, whose inclusion sort of answers the questions about the returns of teleporters Nightcrawler and/or Azazel, except that Blink is a) pink and b) a girl. Finally, an actor by the name of Booboo Stewart (yes, really), who was apparently in a few of the Twilight movies, was also cast, but we don't know yet who he'll be playing.

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#5 THIS WEEK IN JANE GOT A GUN NEWS

It should be noted that this story is more "borderline" than exactly "rotten" because the new director involved is no slouch himself (just to get that stated right at the beginning). Okay, so a big news item this week was that director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Morvern Callar) dropped out of directing the western Jane Got a Gun this week by, you know, just not showing up for the first day of filming. There's a lot more to it, but that's what URL links are for. In her place, the producers have quickly recruited director Gavin O'Connor (Warrior) to fly out to New Mexico and take Ramsay's place. Her departure however had another result, which is that Jude Law dropped out of playing the film's villain, as his participation was 100% dependent on him being able to work with Lynne Ramsay. Actors that are being considered as Jude Law's replacement include Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, and Jeff Bridges. Because when one thinks of Jude Law, the obvious associations are those actors.


#4 THE HERCULES MOVIE WITH DWAYNE JOHNSON HAS MORE CASTING NEWS THAN MOST MORTAL MOVIES COULD BEAR

Some movies (and their publicists) drip out casting news slowly, over the course of weeks, to get the most juice out of each actor's name and reputation. And then there's movies like Brett Ratner's Hercules, which just announced a huge list of names this week. We already knew about Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the title character, of course. Now known to be joining him (all in unspecified roles, by the way) are (in alphabetical order), Joseph Fiennes, Rebecca Ferguson, Aksel Hennie, John Hurt, Ian McShane, and Rufus Sewell. This version of the Greek myth is based upon the comic book Hercules: The Thracian Wars.




#3 ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK BEING REBOOTED AS A WHOLE TRILOGY

The bad thing about movies like Rise of the Planet of the Apes being surprise hits based on them being actual good movies is that lots of other people in Hollywood figure they can do the same thing with whatever else is lying around. And so, we have this story that producer Joel Silver is reviving the plans for a reboot of John Carpenter's (awesome) 1981 film Escape from New York. These plans will include doing the new Snake Plissken story as a trilogy of films starting off with a prequel (say it with me), in the style of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. There's no word yet on who might be the new Snake Plissken, but Joel Silver has done a lot of stuff with Liam Neeson, so the Internet is mentioning his name a lot.




#8 DISNEY IS BRINGING THE FANTASY REBOOTING MEME TO... PETE'S DRAGON

There are some concepts that can totally be given a "dark and edgy modernization" reboot, and then there's Pete's Dragon. Walt Disney Pictures has recruited the director of the "gritty" Sundance hit Ain't Them Bodies Saints, David Lowery, along with his writing partner Toby Halbrooks, to start work on a reboot of the 1977 children's fantasy Pete's Dragon, about a young orphan boy and his magical dragon friend. This new version will be more dramatic, and not a musical, and by its very nature, almost entirely not what Pete's Dragon was, at all. One has to imagine that maybe the Disney executives are confusing Pete's Dragon with the same studio's Dragonslayer, which came out 4 years later in 1981, and which was the first Disney movie to feature nudity (someone had to do it). Anyway, expect Pete's Dragon, if it ever really does get rebooted to have a strange, disconnected, "indie" vibe to it, because... yeah, sure, whatever. This story in many other weeks would have been your Most Rotten Idea, but it at least has the glimmer of a possibility of being a strangely inspired "Fresh" idea. Unlike...


#9 CRITICS BE DAMNED... IF A MOVIE LIKE HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS MAKES OVER $200 MILLION, THERE WILL BE A SEQUEL

When people talk about "box office flops," so much of it depends upon budget and public perception. Take, for example, Disney's John Carter, which "only" made $282 million worldwide on a (estimated) budget of $250 million. And so, people made jokes, and jokes, and jokes. This January's Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, on the other hand, only made $205 million, but because it only cost an estimated $50 million, we now have this story: MGM and Paramount have confirmed development of a sequel to Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Keep in mind, that pretty much nothing else is known, including whether writer/director Tommy Wirkola, or stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, will be returning for the sequel. As for why this sequel news is the week's Most Rotten Idea, here's the link to the RT Tomatometer for the first movie.

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

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