Weekly Ketchup: Star Wars Episode VII Gets Its Villain
Also, David Fincher might do the Steve Jobs biopic, and RIP Harold Ramis.
This week's Ketchup is chock full of almost 10 varieties of sequels, including follow ups to such movies as We're the Millers and (maybe) Space Jam, threequels in the form of The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and Ghostbusters 3, and even a second Steve Jobs biopic.
This Week's Top Story
GIRLS STAR ADAM DRIVER ANNOUNCED AS STAR WARS EPISODE VII BIG BAD
The last year has seen the publication of dozens of stories online about possible casting for Disney's Star Wars Episode VII. Sometimes it sounded a little like "fan casting," and this week, we learned of the first announced (in talks) cast member, and boy, it sure wasn't someone you'd find in such a story. Mostly, the online reaction this week was in the vein of, "Who the %*@$ is Adam Driver?" Besides being the first name to be "almost confirmed," Adam Driver's role is described as being the film's villain "in the vein of" Darth Vader in the original trilogy. Adam Driver is a 30-year-old actor who really was an unknown until the 2012 premiere of HBO's Girls, on which he plays the most prominent male character. In just under two years, Driver has gone on to also costar in Lincoln, Frances Ha, and Inside Llewyn Davis, and to be a rumored candidate to play the new Robin in the Man of Steel sequel. J.J. Abrams will start filming Star Wars Episode VII at Pinewood Studios in London in April, so we can expect March to bring lots more casting stories.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 DAVID FINCHER IN TALKS TO DIRECT (THE OTHER) STEVE JOBS BIOPIC
Now that several months has passed since the release last August of the first Steve Jobs biopic, Sony Pictures is proceeding to move forward with the version that people are hoping will be the "good Steve Jobs biopic" (Jobs has a Rotten RT Tomatometer score of just 27%). Considering that the project, which adapts sections of Walter Isaacson's bestselling biography, has always been compared to The Social Network, it shouldn't be surprising who Sony wants to direct: David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network, Zodiac), who is currently in talks with Sony Pictures to helm their Jobs biopic. Aaron Sorkin, who also wrote The Social Network, adapted the screenplay, and has said that the structure focuses on three of the most important chapters of Steve Jobs' professional life, from the flashback perspective of the 2007 launch of the iPhone. The next step might be to figure out which current Hollywood actor might be a good choice to play Jobs. Any suggestions, commenters?
#2 THE LEGO MOVIE AFTERMATH CONTINUES WITH... MINECRAFT
A lot will be (and has been) written this year about why The LEGO Movie was such a success, and why it is proving to be quickly influential in the movie development cycle. Besides obvious "toy deal" incentives, The LEGO Movie also works because so much of the movie is surprisingly "retro" looking, with large blocky figures moving clunkily across the screen. Of course, the truth is that it takes a lot of CGI work to make something new look that old (if you know what we mean). In the realm of "retro" imagery, one videogame that has become way more successful than its looks would suggest is Minecraft, the game that looks about as advanced as the "CGI" in the Dire Straits "Money for Nothing" music video. Regardless, the game is popular, especially -- perhaps ironically -- with younger players who were surely not even born yet when such graphics were the cutting edge. And so, it shouldn't be surprising that one of the Warner Bros producers who shepherded The LEGO Movie is now working on a Minecraft movie. One of the people who was surprised by this story this week was Minecraft creator Markus Persson, who soon Tweeted that he had been hoping to make the announcement. In related news, Warner Bros this week also scheduled The LEGO Movie 2 for release on May 26, 2017.
#3 THIS WEEK IN RETRO VIDEOGAMING MOVIES PART 2: CONSOLE WARS AND PIXELS
Following the thread started by Minecraft leads us this week to two more movies related to "retro videogaming." Seth Rogen (who mostly made the news this week for appearing before Congress) and his creative partner Evan Goldberg have set up a deal at Sony Pictures to adapt and direct a movie version of the upcoming book, Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation. That generation, of course, being the kids of the 1990s that grew up playing the Nintendo Super NES or Sega Genesis. Someone at Sony really likes older video games, because that is also the studio behind Adam Sandler's feature length version of the short Pixels, about a horde of classic video game characters invading New York City. This week, Adam Sandler was joined in Pixels by Josh Gad and Kevin James.
#4 BRADLEY COOPER GOES FROM AMERICAN HUSTLE TO AMERICAN BLOOD
It's not at all unusual during the weeks immediately before and after the Academy Awards for nominated actors, writers, and directors to make deals, and this week, that honor went to Bradley Cooper. Cooper is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for American Hustle, and he's now producing and attached to star in a movie with the similar title of American Blood. The project is set up at Warner Bros, and is an adaptation of an upcoming crime novel by Ben Sanders, which had been hotly sought after by at least one other studio, and various TV production companies. If the movie is indeed someday actually made, Bradley Cooper will star in American Blood as "Marshall Grade, an NYPD officer turned mob informant, who, while living in the witness protection program in New Mexico, is pulled into a dangerous investigation involving a missing woman."
#5 DIRECTOR MARC WEBB CONFIRMED FOR THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3 (AND SPY MOVIE COLD COMFORT)
This can probably be filed under things that we thought we already knew, but this week, director Marc Webb was confirmed to be returning to direct The Amazing Spider-Man 3, after previously working on the first two reboot movies starring Andrew Garfield. That movie will be released in June, 2016, as part of a plan at Sony Pictures to release one new Spider-Man-related movie every year going forward at that point, with Spidey's own movies alternating with such related projects as Venom and The Sinister Six. The directing career of Marc Webb (who previously directed (500) Days of Summer, for example) will not be defined by just Spider-Man, however, as this week, Webb also made a deal at 20th Century Fox to direct Cold Comfort, a true story based on the upcoming book How to Catch a Russian Spy, about a regular American civilian who taught himself how to become a spy, working with the FBI to bring down an actual Russian intelligence agent.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#6 SEVEN MONTHS BEFORE RELEASE, THE EQUALIZER IS ALREADY TARGETED BY THE SEQUELIZER
The history of Hollywood is littered with examples of would be sequels which were (overly optimistically) developed too far before release (John Carter 2, for example). Of course, when the original movie turns out to be a box office and critical success, we don't really complain about the sequel already in the works. The "original movie" in question this week is actually a TV show adaptation, and one that has been in development at Sony Pictures for a few years, at that. September 26, 2014 is the release date for the movie version of The Equalizer, which replaces the late British actor Edward Woodward with Denzel Washington as the former secret agent who now offers his services to people in need (sort of a one man A-Team). Anyway, Sony Pictures has already hired screenwriter Richard Wenk to start work on a sequel. Consider this one a "borderline Rotten Idea" until we know how well the first one works.
#7 WE'RE THE SEQUELS WEEK CONTINUES WITH... WE'RE THE MILLERS 2
August is a tricky month to predict for the success of movies. Sure, August was the month that The Sixth Sense came out, but that same August of 1999 was also when Mickey Blue Eyes and Teaching Mrs. Tingle came out. Anyway, We're the Millers turned out to be an August release that became one of last summer's final success stories. For those who barely remember the commercials, Jason Sudeikis played a would be drug smuggler who recruited three people (including a stripper played by Jennifer Aniston) to pretend to be his middle class American family. Anyway, We're the Millers ended up making $270 million worldwide for New Line Cinema, and so of course, a sequel is now in development. Screenwriter Adam Sztykiel, who previously worked on Due Date and Made of Honor, was hired to work on the sequel. We're the Millers was not as successful with film critics, scoring just 47% on the Tomatometer.
#2 THERE MAY OR MAY NOT BE A SEQUEL TO SPACE JAM, WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT STAR LEBRON JAMES
It's the nature of online movie news reporting that sometimes stories appear online before some of the involved parties might like for that news to start being talked about (similarly, sometimes, that's the whole point). Late last Friday, after the Weekly Ketchup had already "gone to press" (so to speak), news broke online that Warner Bros was planning a sequel to Space Jam, the 1996 Looney Tunes/Michael Jordan comedy that did a lot to spark the eventual trend of CGI/live action hybrid kids movies. Part of the story said that the project was being developed for current NBA star LeBron James. Later that night, a reporter for ESPN "tweeted" that he contacted sources in the LeBron James camp, who refuted the story. Of course, that may not be the entirety of what's really going on (maybe the deal hadn't been presented to James yet when the story broke). Either way, Space Jam has a Rotten Tomatometer score of just 35%, and so this story is likewise a "Rotten Idea" (even if it's not a real story!).
#1 R.I.P. HAROLD RAMIS (1944-2014) (AND WHAT HIS DEATH MEANS FOR GHOSTBUSTERS 3)
We're only two months in, and 2014 is already proving to be a sort of ****ty year for shocking deaths of tremendously talented individuals who worked in and outside the Hollywood system. This week, we learned that Harold Ramis had been suffering from automimmune inflammatory vasculitis, which ultimately took him from us far too soon. As a comedian, writer, and director, Harold Ramis gave us such rambunctious comedies as Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon's Vacation, Ghostbusters, and Groundhog Day. Ramis' death lingers over the long-in-development sequel Ghostbusters 3, which had been looking like it might start filming in Cleveland in 2014. Sony Pictures and director Ivan Reitman are still considering how to proceed, but for now, we know at least that the script is being "tweaked" to address the absense of Egon. Meanwhile, over at Warner Bros, this week they were in talks to acquire a Rocco Pucillo comedy pitch called Imaginary Foe, which is being described as having supernatural elements, and being in the spirit of Ghostbusters. Finally, we learned this week of another "threequel" concept which is actually *not* in the works. Director Adam McKay has said that there are no plans for an Anchorman 3, saying, "I think that's it for Ron Burgundy."
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.