Weekly Ketchup: Channing Tatum Confirmed as X-Men: Apocalypse's Gambit
Plus, films for Michael Fassbender, Daniel Radcliffe, Kathryn Bigelow, and Ridley Scott.
This week's Ketchup comes to you during the Cannes Film Festival, which means we were deluged with lots of announcements from the film market there. Particularly dominating this news cycle were "true stories," with at least five such films covered here. The mix also includes new roles for Michael Fassbender, Aaron Paul, and Daniel Radcliffe; and new projects for directors Kathryn Bigelow, Derek Cianfrance, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Ridley Scott.
This Week's Top Story
CHANNING TATUM CAST AS GAMBIT IN X-MEN: APOCALYPSE AND SOLO MOVIE
Back in January, we heard rumblings that Channing Tatum might join the ever-expanding X-Men franchise as the cajun hero Gambit. This week, franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner was asked directly at a press event about Tatum as Gambit, and she gave a lengthy reply. Let's just give you the whole bit: "Well you know he's a rogue, Channing. He's a rascal, just like Remy LeBeau, and he can handle the action, we all know that. He's got a really good heart, because I know him personally, I did a movie with him. So I think he'll be great, he'll be great for Gambit, and he's a southerner too, he's not from New Orleans but he is a southerner and he understands that world, and you know Gambit loves New Orleans." This was quickly followed by official confirmation that Channing Tatum's version of the energized-card-throwing "rogue" will be introduced in X-Men: Apocalypse, which 20th Century Fox has scheduled for May 27, 2016, leading to a solo Gambit film at some later point. Given the likelihood that Hugh Jackman is going to eventually stop playing Wolverine, it makes sense that 20th Century Fox is developing solo projects like Gambit and the spinoff X-Force. There is currently an untitled Fox/Marvel movie scheduled for July 18, 2018, which might be either of those films. As for 20th Century Fox's other major Marvel property, the upcoming reboot of The Fantastic Four, screenwriter Simon Kinberg this week confirmed that the two will not take place in the same worlds. Addressing the scenario of the Fantastic Four existing in a world with hundreds of superpowered mutants, Kinberg suggested this hypothetical question could be addressed to the characters: "Oh, you're just a mutant. What's so fantastic about you?" 20th Century Fox has scheduled The Fantastic Four for June 19, 2015.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 HOLLYWOOD COMEDY HAIL CAESAR CONFIRMED AS NEXT FOR THE COEN BROS
We've been hearing for years now that the Coen brothers were developing a comedy set during the Golden Age of Hollywood called Hail Caesar, including a story in December that speculated George Clooney might reunite with his O Brother Where Art Thou? directors. This week, we learned that "a movie" called Hail Caesar is now confirmed to be their next film after Inside Llewyn Davis, but the precise setting and focus of the film may have changed. Instead of being about "a 1920s matinee idol who tackles a sword-and-sandal epic," the film may now instead focus on a 1950s "fixer" character who handles messy scandals for his studio. Of course, a third possibility is that the movie will actually incorporate both elements (like, perhaps, it's a 1920s star in the 1950s who gets involved in a scandal while attempting an epic). Possibly confusing matters is that the fixer character in question is reported to be called "Eddie Mannix," who was a real life studio executive who himself is most famous as a figure in the George Reeves murder controversy. Eddie Mannix was portrayed by the recently late Bob Hoskins in the 2002 film Hollywoodland, with Ben Affleck playing George Reeves. And that leads us to a story that is more "production" or "publicity" than "development," but hey... did you hear about Sad Batman (which came soon after these images went public this week)? And of course, that truly puts us full circle, because George Clooney also played Batman.
#2 MICHAEL FASSBENDER SEES THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS
Michael Fassbender is now in talks with DreamWorks to star in a drama called The Light Between Oceans for director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines). Based upon a novel by M.L. Stedman, the film will be set off the coast of Western Australia after World War I. Michael Fassbender would play a lighthouse keeper who finds an infant girl in a boat next to a corpse, and "what seems like a blessing soon turns tragic, as mortality and love are tested." Filming is expected to start later this year in Australia.
#3 HELEN MIRREN AND AARON PAUL ARE THE MAKERS OF RULES, DEALING WITH FOOLS, IN EYE IN THE SKY
The "international thriller" Eye in the Sky upped its game considerably this week by adding Academy Award winner Helen Mirren and Emmy winner Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad). Mirren and Paul join Colin Firth, who had already been cast and announced in the film about drone warfare. Helen Mirren will play a British intelligence officer attempting to capture terrorists in Kenya, and Aaron Paul will play an American drone pilot who is given an order that poses a moral dilemma. Colin Firth plays a British politician, and is also co-producing. Eye in the Sky will be directed by Gavin Hood, who previously dealt with international politics in Rendition, which was followed by X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and last year's adaptation of Ender's Game. Filming of Eye in the Sky is scheduled to start in South Africa in September, 2014.
#4 DRIVE DIRECTOR NICOLAS WINDING REFN CHECKS INTO HAUNTED HOTEL MOVIE THE BRINGING
Last year, the body of a Canadian student named Elisa Lam was found inside one of the water towers atop the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, but where things got really weird was when the elevator security footage was leaked online, leading to some speculating about ghosts. Some of those people who were inspired by the case were apparently screenwriters and Sony Pictures executives, because 15 months later, there is now a new horror project called The Bringing. Like the Elisa Lam case, The Bringing will be set at the Cecil Hotel, which has been the setting for several suicides, at least three murders, and was reportedly the residence of two different serial killers (Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger). Someone else who was inspired by the Elisa Lam story was acclaimed director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Valhalla Rising), who sought out the project, which is being compared to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.
#5 DANIEL RADCLIFFE SAYS YOU SHALL KNOW OUR VELOCITY
The world is still waiting on an adaptation of the Dave Eggers memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, but in the meantime, other books by the author are moving through development at a much faster pace. Tom Hanks and director Tom Tykwer (Cloud Atlas, Run Lola Run) are currently collaborating in Morocco and Germany on an adaptation of Eggers' A Hologram for the King. This week, we learned of another adaptation, which Daniel Radcliffe is now attached to star in for director Peter Sollett (Raising Victor Vargas, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist). The movie in question is called You Shall Know Our Velocity, and it will tell the story of two friends who set out on a trip across Africa on a mission to distribute a large amount of money to people in need before they arrive at the pyramids in Egypt to scatter their dead friend's ashes. In addition to Egypt, the story is also set in Senegal and Morocco.
#6 THIS WEEK IN ZACH GALIFIANAKIS "TRUE STORY" COMEDIES: LARRY'S KIDNEY AND LOOMIS FARGO
Someone at Cannes really likes Zach Galifianakis, because the comedian-turned-actor was involved in two different deals this week. First up, there's the adaptation of the Daniel Asa Rose memoir Larry's Kidney, in which Galifianakis is attached to reunite with Will Ferrell (his costar in The Campaign) for director Richard Linklater (School of Rock, Before Midnight). Will Ferrell will play the author, who traveled with his cousin Larry (Zach Galifianakis) "and his mail-order bride to save Larry's life by skirting the law and securing him a kidney transplant." The other news maker for Galifianakis this week was the previously announced crime comedy Loomis Fargo, which will be directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite). Kirsten Wiig will join Zach Galifianakis and Owen Wilson in an adaptation of a true story about four Southern coworkers who pulled off (spoiler!) one of the biggest armored truck heists in American crime history. Production is scheduled to start in North Carolina in July, and Relativity Media has already scheduled Loomis Fargo for release on August 14, 2015.
#7 THIS WEEK IN RIDLEY SCOTT SCI FI MOVIES: BLADE RUNNER 2 AND THE MARTIAN
After long stretches in his career in which he focused on other genres, director Ridley Scott is these days quite heavily investing in science fiction again, the genre that got him his first fame with films like Alien and Blade Runner. One of those projects (which we've known about for a while) is a Blade Runner sequel. What was previously unclear was how much (or whether) the character of Deckard would be featured in this sequel. Well, this week, we learned that an offer has been made to Harrison Ford to reprise the role in the sequel, which is described as being "several decades" after the conclusion of the first film. If you're familiar with popular theories about Blade Runner, that bit of news alone should raise some questions. Harrison Ford is currently in England for the filming of Star Wars Episode VII. We don't know when the Blade Runner sequel might start filming, but in the meantime, Ridley Scott might instead be focusing on another new project. Scott is in talks with 20th Century Fox to take over directing duties on The Martian, after the recent departure of Drew Goddard (who is now focusing on the Spider-Man spinoff The Sinister Six instead). Matt Damon is now attached to star as "an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars and must figure out how to stay alive long enough to get back home."
#8 MOVIES INSPIRED BY CONTROVERSIAL TRUE STORIES: THE TRUE AMERICAN AND EDWARD SNOWDEN
Sometimes when we tie two stories together because of similarities (genre, creatives, source, etc), it can create a conundrum around the issue of "Fresh" vs "Rotten." One movie might be Fresher, the other more dubious. Both films here address the issue of what it means to be an "American." First off, there's the directly titled The True American, which will adapt a non-fiction book of the same title by Anand Giridharadas. English actor Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) is signed to star in The True American, which will be directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty). "In the charged, angry days after 9/11, self-styled 'American Terrorist' Mark Stroman murdered two immigrants in Texas, while a third man survived being shot in the head during Stroman's spree: Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladesh Air Force veteran, was working at a Dallas-area convenience store as he established himself in America." That would be the more obviously "Fresh" story. And then, there's No Place to Hide, which is being produced for Sony Pictures by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, who are most famous for producing the James Bond franchise. No Place to Hide will be an adaptation of a non-fiction book by Glenn Greenwald called more fully, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. Yes, that's right... the James Bond people are going to make a movie about former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Rotten Idea of the Week
#1 ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER ANNOUNCED BONNIE & CLYDE MOVIE: GO DOWN TOGETHER
The true crime story of bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow continues to inspire prospective filmmakers, even some 45 years after the 1967 film which won two Academy Awards (Cinematography and Supporting Actress). Most recently, there was a two-part cable mini-series featuring Holliday Grainger and Emile Hirsch. The latest attempt at a Bonnie and Clyde film is called Go Down Together, and this week, we learned that the film's stars will be Emilia Clarke (HBO's Game of Thrones) and Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, About a Boy). The "Rotten" part is that the film will be directed by Michael Sucsy, who is best known for The Vow, which was a very successful romantic drama in 2012... except that it was not so successful with critics, who only gave it a 29% Tomatometer score.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.