Weekly Ketchup: The Conjuring Becomes a Franchise

Plus, new roles for Jessica Chastain, Kevin Costner, Kristen Wiig, and Josh Brolin.

by Greg Dean Schmitz | Friday, Jul. 19 2013

This week, many of Hollywood's movers and shakers are down in San Diego for Comic-Con. So, there will actually be another Ketchup column on Monday to cover all of the news stories that either emerged there, or were at least timed in conjunction with SDCC. Indeed, this weekend, the Internet in general is sort of obsessed with all things SDCC, so this entry of the Weekly Ketchup will attempt to be a response to that. Here are the top stories this week that were NOT connected to San Diego Comic-Con!


This Week's Top Story

THE CONJURING ALREADY BEING EYED AS THE FIRST FILM IN A NEW HORROR FRANCHISE

The Conjuring wasn't even out yet earlier this week, but New Line Cinema is already moving forward with plans to develop a new horror franchise with two of its characters as the focus. The Conjuring currently holds a Certified Fresh RT Tomatometer rating of 85%. The plan is to base future films on other haunting cases investigated by real life paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren, portrayed in The Conjuring by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. Some of the Warrens' cases have already been adapted to film, most notably as The Amityville Horror and The Haunting in Connecticut.



Fresh Developments This Week

#1 PACIFIC RIM'S CHARLIE HUNNAM HEADLINES NEXT FILM FROM DIRECTOR JOHN HILLCOAT

There are differing opinions on whether Pacific Rim's first weekend was a success or a disappointment. For this entry, let's laud the fact that Pacific Rim made over $102 million in its first weekend (internationally). And one of its stars, Charlie Hunnam (or his agents, at least), is already making new deals in the days after the film's release. Hunnam is attached to star in the crime thriller Triple Nine, the next film from director John Hillcoat, whose previous films were The Proposition, The Road, and last year's Lawless. Negotiations are ongoing with two Academy Award winners, Christoph Waltz and Cate Blanchett, to join Hunnam in the film. Triple Nine refers to the police code indicating that an officer needs immediate help, and the premise involves exactly that. Charlie Hunnam will play an LAPD officer targeted by a group of thieves who plan to kill him as a diversion from a heist they're staging across town. Hunnam joins Triple Nine after two other stars were previously attached (Shia LaBeouf and then Chris Pine), and Jeff Bridges was also at one time attached for one of the roles. Benicio del Toro and Idris Elba have also been rumored for roles in the past. If they sign, Christoph Waltz will play Hunnam's police officer uncle, and Cate Blanchett would play the wife of one of the mobsters.


#2 JESSICA CHASTAIN MAY JOIN JAVIER BARDEM FOR A MOST VIOLENT YEAR

Continuing an active year following critical adulation for Zero Dark Thirty, Jessica Chastain is in talks to costar with Javier Bardem in a secret-shrouded film called A Most Violent Year. The drama will be directed by J.C. Chandor, whose first film was Margin Call, and whose second film is this fall's All is Lost, a nearly dialogue-free ocean survival drama starring Robert Redford. What A Most Violent Year might be about is anyone's guess, but location reports might provide hints when filming starts this fall in New York City.





#3 ODD COUPLE OF THE WEEK: KEVIN COSTNER AND... GUILLERMO DEL TORO?

Pacific Rim may have arrived in the United States to a disappointing box office, but Guillermo Del Toro is still a creative force that Hollywood types increasingly stumble over each other to work with. The latest example might be the most surprising ever, but it might also be one of those "just so crazy it might work" cliches waiting to happen. Kevin Costner is in talks with Universal Pictures to star in the thriller Midnight Delivery, which Guillermo Del Toro is producing, based on his own story idea and cowritten script. Costner will play a father who agrees to become a cocaine drug mule in order to save his daughter from an evil Colombian gang. Del Toro cowrote the Midnight Delivery script with Neil Cross, cocreator of the BBC series Luther (in which Pacific Rim's Idris Elba stars). Guillermo Del Toro's next film as director will be the supernatural thriller Crimson Peak, which stars filming in January, 2014. There's no announced director for Midnight Delivery yet, but filming is expected to start this fall in England before Crimson Peak starts, with GDT overseeing the production directly.


#4 UNDER THE DOME COSTAR BRITT ROBERTSON LANDS FEMALE LEAD IN MYSTERIOUS TOMORROWLAND

Although much of the cast (including George Clooney and Hugh Laurie) of Disney's mysterious Tomorrowland project has been secured for some time now, the question of the young female lead has been lingering out there for months. We now know that the role has gone to Britt Robertson, who is currently one of the stars of the CBS summer mini-series TV event Under the Dome. Her role is described as "a high school girl with an unconventional understanding of technology who is launched on a journey to reclaim her future." We've also heard sometimes confusing descriptions of the premise of Tomorrowland involving travel to another dimension in time and space, and maybe robots, and maybe strange conspiracy theories about Walt Disney's plans for the original Tomorrowland theme park. Tomorrowland will be directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) from a script by Damon Lindelof (TV's LOST; cowriter of Prometheus and World War Z) and Jeff Jensen, who was a prolific online fan/writer about all things LOST.


#5 HEAVEN IS FOR REAL: THE NEXT FILM FROM THE DIRECTOR OF SECRETARIAT AND WE WERE SOLDIERS

There was a time when every new project involving screenwriter-turned-director Randall Wallace received a lot of online attention. Wallace was, after all, the writer of Braveheart, and before Mel Gibson became a South Park joke, Braveheart was a movie that many people were a lot more excited about. Nowadays, filming could start on a new Randall Wallace film, and the world at large wouldn't even really know that it was ever in development. Speaking of which, hey, Wallace's next movie as director is called Heaven is for Real, and filming is underway up in Winnipeg on the family drama. (Take San Diego Comic-Con out of the picture, and this really is a slow news week). Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly costar as a real life couple whose son Colton experienced "Heaven" during emergency surgery, and then went on to describe it in detail to his family and local church congregation (as described in the book of the same title). Randall Wallace's previous films as director include Secretariat and We Were Soldiers. Other costars include Thomas Haden Church and Margo Martindale. Sony Pictures has loosely scheduled Heaven is for Real for release for April 18, 2014, which is also Good Friday, and that Sunday is Easter.


#6 KRISTEN WIIG AND OTHERS TO STAR IN WELCOME TO ME

Kristen Wiig has been known for two months to be attached to star in a comedy project called Welcome to Me, but it was this week that we learned more about the premise, and who her costars will be. Linda Cardellini (Scooby Doo, Freaks and Geeks), Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tim Robbins are all signed to costar in Welcome to Me, which is being produced by frequent collaborators Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Wiig will play a woman "who suffers from dissociative personality disorder and wins the lottery only to decide to spend her money on a cable access talk show about herself. The show reflects her larger-than-life personality and absolute obsession with wanting to be famous, even if it means alienating her friends and family in the process." Welcome to Me will be directed by Shira Piven, who played "Nurse" in Step Brothers (and directed a 2011 movie called Fully Loaded) from a script by Eliot Laurence, whose name challenges you not to misspell it when you look him up online.


#7 BROLIN, CLARKE, HAWKES, AND GYLLENHAAL TO SCALE AS ENSEMBLE CAST OF EVEREST

Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty), Jake Gyllenhaal, and John Hawkes are all in negotiations for ensemble cast roles in Everest. Everest will be a "mountain climbing disaster film" based upon a real event in 1996 which was depicted in the best selling book Into the Air by author Jon Krakauer. Christian Bale was previously reported also to be in talks, but it appears that one of the other actors is now in the running for whichever role he was negotiating to play. Everest is a borderline Fresh Development this week based on the involvement of Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur, whose RT Tomatometer ratings are frequently Rotten. However, he's received good reviews for this year's The Deep, and the potential cast for Everest is quite strong. Filming of Everest is expected to start in November, 2013.

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#2 DAVID FINCHER'S 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA AND THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE LIKELY DEAD

Last week, we learned that director David Fincher's next movie will be an adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel Gone Girl, with Ben Affleck in talks to star. In the aftermath of that news, this week, two different stories emerged addressing some of the other movies previously on Fincher's slate. One was a big budget Disney remake that may have suffered at least partly due to the disappointing box office returns for John Carter and The Lone Ranger, and the other would have been Fincher's first sequel (to his own movie). The two movies in question are 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and The Girl Who Played with Fire, which would have been the next film in an English language trilogy that started with Fincher's version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Anyway, it now appears that both movies are pretty much scrapped. For the Jules Verne adaptation, besides the budget (and studio trepidation), settling upon a lead actor seemed to be a major issue (the list of possibilities included Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, and Chris Hemsworth). As for the Stieg Larsson adaptation, the biggest lingering problem might have been the same that handicapped Fincher's first movie: there's already a pretty solid adaptation starring Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace. Why does the world need another, regardless of how well it's produced and directed? 2009 wasn't that long ago. Should Hollywood remake Avatar, The Hangover, and The Hurt Locker too?


#1 TOM HANKS AND RON HOWARD TO SKIP THE LOST SYMBOL FOR INFERNO

Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard announced this week that they will reunite for a third time to adapt a Robert Langdon story by author Dan Brown, but the project in question was surprising. Rather than moving forward with an adaptation of Brown's third Langdon novel, The Lost Symbol (published in 2009), Hanks and Howard are skipping to book number four. Sony Pictures has already scheduled a December, 2015 release for the adaptation of the recent 2013 novel Inferno, which sees Hanks' "symbologist" character investigating the possible conspiracies behind works by poet Dante Alighieri and painter Sandro Botticelli. Inferno will follow the 2006 and 2009 releases of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. A future adaptation of The Lost Symbol isn't officially dead yet, but with Ron Howard opting not to direct it, yeah, it's pretty much dead. The two Dan Brown adaptations are among Ron Howard's worst reviewed films as director, with RT Tomatometer scores of 25% for The Da Vinci Code and 37% for Angels & Demons.

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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