Weekly Ketchup: Disney Secures Indiana Jones Rights

Also, some biopics, a couple of reboots, and lots of sequels.

This was a crazily busy week for movie development news. This writer is absolutely certain that in the future, it will be easy to think a story was covered in the Weekly Ketchup, only to discover that it wasn't, because the week in question was this one. The movies that did make the cut include new projects for Sandra Bullock, Tom Cruise and Dwayne Johnson, new entries in the Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, and Man of Steel superhero franchises.


This Week's Top Story

WALT DISNEY AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST INDIANA JONES FRANCHISE

Walt Disney Pictures has been steadily building quite a mountain of franchises that are now theirs to produce and distribute. The series of acquisitions in recent years has included The Jim Henson Company, Pixar, Marvel, and most recently, Lucasfilm. When that last deal happened, the hype and the talk was mostly about the new Star Wars movies. This week, however, we learned that Disney has not forgotten about that other big franchise that Lucasfilm was involved with: Indiana Jones. The series may have lost some of its lustre due to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (though one might be surprised that movie actually has a Certified Fresh rating of 78%), and there's also obviously the issue of an aging 71-year-old Harrison Ford (though there's always Shia LeBeouf, right?). Anyway, a deal has been agreed upon between Walt Disney Pictures and Paramount Pictures that leaves the distribution of the first four movies at Paramount, but allows Disney to produce future movies (which Paramount retains a financial "participation" in). However, as a subsequent Variety headline declares, "Don't expect the next Indiana Jones for at least two to three years." Disney CEO Alan Horn was quoted as saying, "We haven't done anything. We don't have a story. We need a story." You know that had to stop some people in Hollywood... "Wait... we do?"

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 DON CHEADLE SUITING UP FOR AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, PLUS A BELOVED COMIC BOOK CHARACTER IS HIRED?

Oh, mainstream media, you sometimes totally bury leads that online movie journalists are going to lose their **** over. In this case, it's the revelation that Don Cheadle will be appearing in Avengers: Age of Ultron (as James Rhodes, AKA War Machine). See, we didn't know that, at least, not for sure. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that War Machine is joining the Avengers, but hey, it's something. We also learned this week of a rumor that British actor Simon McBurney might be in talks to play Jarvis. Before you say, oh, they're not using the voice of Paul Bettany as the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. anymore, no, we're talking about the "original" Jarvis, AKA Edwin Jarvis. Before the name was adapted (rather funnily) in Iron Man, Edwin Jarvis was the Avengers' (and Tony Stark's) butler almost since the beginning. He's a beloved old school comic book character (who probably wasn't included right away because people would think he was too much like that other "butler to a millionaire playboy superhero," and admittedly, such an opinion wouldn't have necessarily been wrong). By now, however, J.A.R.V.I.S. has been in the movies long enough that the idea of a "human" Jarvis has the chance of seeming original and funny. Edwin Jarvis also provides the Avengers with their heart.


#2 SANDRA BULLOCK TO REUNITE WITH HER GRAVITY COSTAR GEORGE CLOONEY (SORT OF)

Sandra Bullock is reportedly in early talks with Warner Bros and producing partners George Clooney and Grant Heslov to star in a comedic adaptation of the 2005 documentary Our Brand is Crisis. That film "focused on the use of American political campaign strategies in Bolivia by President Clinton's former consultants James Carville and Stan Greenberg." If Bullock does sign on, she would be playing "a retired American political consultant who often quotes famous people to help hammer home her talking points." The script is being adapted by Peter Straughan, who previously worked with George Clooney on 2009's The Men Who Stare at Goats. It's currently unknown whether Clooney will also costar in Our Brand is Crisis, but it's probably a good bet that he wouldn't be playing James Carville. George Clooney also made the news this week as possibly reuniting with the Coen Bros on the long-in-development comedy Hail Caesar, about a 1920s matinee idol who tackles a sword-and-sandal epic. This could have been its own story, but hey, it was a busy week.


#3 THIS WEEK IN BIOPICS: FREDDIE MERCURY, JESUS, AND... AN ANIMATED ANNE FRANK MOVIE?

Consider this single "story" a sort of dustbin for a few not-really-otherwise-connected stories that are all technically "biopics." First off, there is the long-in-development biopic about the life of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the rock group Queen. At one time, Sacha Baron Cohen had been attached to star, but this week, we learned that the role is instead going to Ben Whishaw, costar of such movies as Cloud Atlas and Layer Cake. The movie will also be directed by actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher, who was also in Layer Cake. Speaking of Queen, a certain someone has been called the "King of Kings" and that someone was... Jesus. Lionsgate has acquired the feature film rights to Dr. Reza Aslan's best selling book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. The book has come under fire from some sources mostly due to Aslan himself not being a Jew or a Christian (sort of ironic for a guy named Aslan, right, Narnia fans?). Finally, there is the animated adaptation of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. That notion is a bit of a headline grabber, but that's until you hear that the animator and director in question is Ari Folman, the director of Waltz with Bashir. So, yeah, it's not going to be a wacky CGI kids movie.


#4 THE DWAYNE JOHNSON MOVIE THE RUNDOWN MAY GET THE SEQUEL YOU DIDN'T EVEN REALIZE YOU WANTED

There are plenty of very obvious movies about which there will always be sequels talked about, and eventual sequels produced. And then, there's a movie like 2003's The Rundown, about a bounty hunter played by Dwayne Johnson bringing Seann William Scott back to civilization from the jungle. It was a fun movie, but probably not one most people ever seriously thought would get a sequel. Well, director Peter Berg (Battleship, Hancock) apparently isn't listening to those people, because he revealed this week that he is talking to writers, and that Dwayne Johnson wants to do the sequel. We don't know the story yet, but it would feature a new actor, probably playing someone else that Dwayne Johnson has to go and Rundown. There's lots of green splotches on director Peter Berg's RT Tomatometer page, but The Rundown isn't one of them at 71% Fresh.


#5 TOM CRUISE TO RETURN AS JACK REACHER

Released in a busy December movie season, many people may not have really noticed the release of last year's Jack Reacher, starring Tom Cruise. The adaptation of the book series character created by author Lee Child went on to earn over $218 million worldwide on a production budget of just $57 million. And so, this week, we learned that Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions have acquired the rights to the most recent Jack Reacher novel, Never Go Back. In this one, Jack Reacher returns to one of his former military bases in Virginia to find himself in a series of social and criminal messes (hence the title). Paramount is now looking for a writer to adapt the book. Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote and directed the first movie, isn't expected to work on this second Jack Reacher movie because he is otherwise engaged getting ready to film Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 5.


#6 JASON CLARKE IN TALKS TO PLAY JOHN CONNOR IN THE TERMINATOR REBOOT

First off, it's worth noting that this is a borderline Fresh Development, because this writer's reluctance in supporting yet another sci-fi reboot keeps being subverted by the talents of everyone actually making the news associated with it. Okay, so here's the big news. Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) is now in talks with Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures to play future rebellion leader John Connor in the Terminator reboot (which may end up being called Terminator: Genesis). Previously, John Connor has been portrayed by Edward Furlong, Nick Stahl, Christian Bale, and Thomas Dekker (on the TV show). Meanwhile, the casting of Sarah Connor is still ongoing, with director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World, Game of Thrones) wanting to cast his show's Khaleesi, Emilia Clarke, and Paramount favoring Brie Larson, who the studio recently cast in the Mark Wahlberg movie The Gambler. Arnold Schwarzenegger is also expected to be reprising his role as at least one of the cyborg killers in the reboot.

Rotten Idea of the Week

#3 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN SPINOFFS ARE REVEALED TO START WITH VENOM AND SINISTER SIX

The online movie journalism community is pretty much acting today like this story is the biggest story, but it's handicapped by something, in regards to whether this should have been the week's "Top Story." It already was, three weeks ago. Oh sure, we got some of the speculation confirmed today, but the gist is pretty much the same. Sony Pictures is expanding their share of the Marvel movie spectrum into more than just The Amazing Spider-Man, with a series of spinoff movies for other characters. What we learned this week is that the first two spinoffs have been confirmed as being Venom and The Sinister Six. The Amazing Spider-Man spinoffs are being developed by a new brain trust of writers which include Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (of the Star Trek and Transformers franchises), Jeff Pinkner (of TV's LOST and Fringe), Drew Goddard (Cloverfield), and Ed Solomon (Men in Black). Kurtzman, Orci and Solomon will work on Venom, which Kurtzman will direct, and Drew Goddard will work on The Sinister Six, which he will also possibly direct. And of course, we already see the beginnings of what may become The Sinister Six in the trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man (Rhino, Electro, the Goblin-related character, etc). The reason all of this is one of the week's Rotten Ideas is that this seems like just the latest example of one of the hottest new trends of 2013, AKA copying Marvel Studios and The Avengers. This piece over at Vulture sums up the sentiment.


#2 JASON MOMOA AND HIS MUSCLES IN TALKS TO COSTAR IN MAN OF STEEL SEQUEL

There are just certain actors that don't get cast against type (very often, anyway). Take, for example, Jason Momoa, the absolute mountain of a man who might be best known for costarring in Game of Thrones, and for starring in the failed Conan the Barbarian reboot. What we're saying is, you cast Jason Momoa when you want a guy with lots of muscles; it's sort of his thing. And so, the news this week that Jason Momoa is in talks with Warner Bros to costar in their sequel to Man of Steel has online writers all aflutter, trying to figure out which muscley DC Comics character Jason Momoa might play (the original article speculates about Doomsday and Martian Manhunter). As said above, it's telling that people just don't even bother speculating about characters like say, Elongated Man, or The Atom (though it's worth noting that in many comic books, every male superhero is drawn as being muscle bound). As long as we're all just making up guesses anyway, what about Hawkman, who also has to show off his shirtless muscles in pretty much every shot. Anyway, if Jason Momoa signs, he joins the various actors from the first movie, as well as Ben Affleck (Batman) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman).


#1 ED HELMS TO STAR IN THE NAKED GUN REBOOT (THAT YOU REALLY KNEW YOU DIDN'T WANT)

Buried in the busy news cycle this week was this revelation: Paramount Pictures is rebooting The Naked Gun, the TV and film comedy series starring the late Leslie Nielsen as bungling police Detective Frank Drebin. And for a project we didn't even know was happening, it's surprisingly well along, because Ed Helms (The Hangover) is attached to be the new Frank Drebin. This is about as welcome a remake announcement as when Steve Martin became the new Inspector Clouseau. It's not so much that Ed Helms isn't a funny comedian, but some roles are best left to age like fine grape juice. The reboot of The Naked Gun is being adapted by the screenwriting team of Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, formerly of The State and Reno 911!, and also the writers of the Night at the Museum franchise. So, commenters, who should they get to reprise O.J. Simpson's role as Detective Nordberg?

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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