Weekly Ketchup: Is Naomie Harris the Next Bond Girl?
There are Rotten Ideas in the Ketchup every week, but Hollywood went a little crazy this week, with almost enough major stories (8!) that could have nearly filled the entire column with Rotten Ideas. Sequels (G.I. Joe 2, James Bond 23, Salt 2, TRON 3) and remakes/reboots (Big Man Japan, Cherry 2000, Daredevil, King Kong, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) dominated the week. This writer has seen our cinematic future and it's very, very familiar.
This Week's Top Story
THE NEW BOND GIRL MAY HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH PIRATES AND ZOMBIES
As filming proceeds on Peter Jackson's two movie adaptation of The Hobbit, the other big franchise most halted by MGM's financial woes is finally getting closer to production. One of the crucial steps on the road to getting a James Bond movie going is the casting of the first Bond Girl, and this week brought exactly that news. British actress Naomie Harris is reportedly in talks to join the dozens of previous actresses who have been Bond Girls. Naomie Harris is best known for costarring in 28 Days Later and as Tia Dalma in the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Rumors about who might be the villain in this 23rd film have also included Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes and even Sir Anthony Hopkins. British director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) will make his James Bond debut with this film, working from a script from series regulars Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (#23 being their 5th Bond film) and John Logan (Rango, The Aviator). Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench will be returning for their third and seventh Bond films, respectively. MGM and Sony Pictures will be codistributing the 23rd James Bond, with a release date currently scheduled for November 9, 2012. Filming is scheduled to start in the fall of 2011, at locations all over the world, including England and India.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 20TH CENTURY FOX GOES APE OVER ANIMATED KING KONG
This summer's franchise reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes is looking (in this writer's opinion) more promising than anyone could have expected. 20th Century Fox is looking to continue the primate love with the news that Fox Animation is developing a "modern day twist" on King Kong. The animated remake will be from Kong's perspective, which will be a first for a franchise that has had three major versions (1933, 1976 and 2005) and multiple sequels. Some readers may question why this is a Fresh Development, and the answer to that is in the writers. Although Christian Magalhaes and Bob Snow don't yet have any produced features to their credit, their screenplay called Murder of a Cat was on the 2010 Black List. Of course, Your Highness was also a Black List script, so...
#2 LOST CO-CREATOR HAS A BIG IDEA FOR 1952... WE JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS YET
LOST co-creator and showrunner Damon Lindelof has had a very busy year in the year since the show ended. Lindelof cowrote Cowboys & Aliens, was responsible for the rewrite that led to Prometheus being called something other than an Alien prequel, and is currently cowriting the sequel to J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot. This week, Damon Lindelof made his biggest post-LOST deal yet with Walt Disney Pictures, the parent company of ABC (and therefore, LOST). Lindelof is being paid a 7 figure deal (fairly unusually high for original properties) for an "original large-scale science fiction feature film" with the working title of 1952. That sentence contains just about everything that is currently known about 1952, except that it's not just being seen as a movie, but also has "multiple platform aspirations," whatever that actually means (TV? video games? haikus? who knows). Although Disney is saying 1952 is "original," there remains speculation that 1952 could be somehow connected to LOST. That year didn't have a direct significance in LOST, unless it's seen as a prequel to the events set in 1954. The more likely scenario is that 1952 may be an homage by Damon Lindelof of the science fiction and monster movies of that era (although that is just speculation by this writer).
#3 HERE'S HOPING SALT 2 IS CALLED PEPPER
Sony Pictures is moving forward with plans for a sequel to the 2010 Angelina Jolie spy/action film Salt by hiring screenwriter Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium, Law Abiding Citizen). Wimmer also wrote the original Salt and recently adapted the remake of Total Recall for the same studio. In Salt, Angelina Jolie played a CIA agent who is accused of being a Russian spy assigned the task of assassinating the POTUSA, leading to a series of chase scenes which comprise most of the movie. Salt also ended with a set up that implied her adventures would continue in a sequel. Salt was originally supposed to be called Edwin A. Salt (and star Tom Cruise), but the character's name was changed to Evelyn Salt when Angelina Jolie was cast instead. Salt opened in July, 2010 to a $36 million domestic weekend that led to a domestic gross of $118 million and a worldwide gross of $295 million. Salt also received an RT Tomatometer score of 62%, earning it a Fresh label (although by a narrow margin), which is why this story is a "Fresh Development" (also by a narrow margin).
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#6 RIDICULOUS JAPANESE MONSTER MOVIE BIG MAN JAPAN TO BE REMADE AS RIDICULOUS AMERICAN MOVIE, RIDICULOUSLY
Big Man Japan was a 2007 Japanese monster movie (released in the USA in 2009) about a man who is able to grow 100 feet tall by absorbing electricity in an ongoing struggle against the various giant monsters that plague Japan. Here's an example of a fight with a giant tapeworm-ish monster with a comb-over hairstyle which (possibly) isn't even the weirdest scene in the movie. Columbia Pictures and producer Neil H. Moritz (I Am Legend, the Fast and the Furious franchise) have announced plans for an English-language remake of Big Man Japan. The screenwriting team of Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, who have previously collaborated on Aeon Flux and Clash of the Titans, have been hired to adapt Big Man Japan. Hay and Manfredi also recently worked on the Dark Horse comic book adaptation R.I.P.D., in which Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges will star as undead cops assigned to bring down supernatural menaces. The title of the Big Man Japan remake will probably be changed to reflect the new setting.
#5 DISNEY PROCEEDS WITH PLANS FOR TRON 3
Walt Disney Pictures has hired screenwriter David DiGilio (Eight Below) to start work on a third movie in the TRON franchise, which they are curiously referring to as a sequel to TRON: Legacy. Last year's TRON: Legacy was an expensive gamble at an estimated cost of $170 million, but the film has since brought in over $400 million in worldwide grosses for Disney. Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, the writers of TRON: Legacy, had been expected to work on this third film, but they are now busy working on their new ABC TV series Once Upon a Time, which debuts this fall. It's also unknown if that film's director, Joseph Kosinski, will return for this third movie. Kosinski is also developing a remake of The Black Hole for Walt Disney Pictures. The decision to proceed with a third TRON movie will reportedly depend at least partially upon the success of the animated TV series TRON: Uprising, which will debut on the Disney XD channel in 2012. This is one of the Rotten Ideas of the week partly based on both the weak RT Tomatometer score for TRON: Legacy (50%). The decision by Disney to hire a screenwriter currently known mostly for a Paul Walker "doggie movie" to adapt something like a TRON sequel was also a factor. Speaking of which...
#4 TERMINATOR 5 MAY REWRITE CONTINUITY A LA STAR TREK
Last month, Arnold Schwarzenegger postponed his various "return to acting" movie plans following the controversy of his affair (and his familial spin-off project) with his long time live in maid. Oracle heiress and movie producer Megan Ellison, however, had just recently spent quite a bit of cash on acquiring the rights to the Terminator franchise. So, not surprisingly, there are now reportedly plans about how the fifth Terminator movie can be adapted to lessen (or not require at all) Schwarzengger's involvement. It should also be noted right up front that this story comes from an unconfirmed source, so it does sort of border on "rumor." If true, Elison and crew's new plan may be to style the next film after J.J. Abrams' reboot of Star Trek, going back to the original film's characters of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, with events that would be changed through the miracle of time travel. That's a handy solution made quite viable through the already existing precedent of time travel in the franchise. Where this story gets its Rotten Idea tag is the suggestion that the new film's star value may come from Paul Walker, who might be the choice to play the new Kyle Reese. If Paul Walker does take the job, he will be the fourth actor to play Kyle Reese after Michael Biehn (Terminator), Jonathan Jackson (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) and Anton Yelchin (Terminator: Salvation). Paul Walker would also be reuniting with director Justin Lin, who Walker worked with on Fast & Furious and Fast Five.
#3 DWAYNE JOHNSON AS ROADBLOCK IRONICALLY HELPS G.I. JOE SEQUEL GET MADE
Back in March, Rachel Nichols (who played Scarlett in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) revealed that only three characters would be returning for the sequel: Duke, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. That story was particularly interesting because two of those characters are also mute and wear masks, which suggested that they were chosen to return because they could most easily be recast. Channing Tatum, Ray Park and Lee Byung-hun played those characters in the first film. This week brought the news that Dwayne Johnson is in talks with Paramount Pictures to be the first new cast member, taking on the character of Roadblock, who also appeared in previous cartoon and comic book adaptations of the G.I. Joe toy franchise. Channing Tatum is also in talks to return as Duke. The G.I. Joe sequel will be directed by Jon M. Chu, whose career started with Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D, and recently included Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, also for Paramount Pictures. The studio is reportedly increasingly interested in getting G.I. Joe 2 produced as a likely summer, 2012 release following recent reports that Star Trek 2 may not be ready in time for its originally projected release in that season. The G.I. Joe sequel is being adapted by the Zombieland screenwriting team of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.
#2 THIS WEEK IN GAME-BASED MOVIES: RISK AND ASTEROIDS
Although the trend's been relatively dormant lately, Hollywood is still very much pursuing the notion of movies based upon aging non-narrative games of all types. One such example is the Parker Brothers game Risk, in which players compete to control geographic sections of the world map. The lack of a story isn't stopping Hasbro and Columbia Pictures from moving forward with a Risk movie. This week Columbia hired TV writer John Hlavin to make his feature film debut on adapting Risk. Hlavin has previously worked on seven episodes of television shows like Day Break, LAX, The Shield and Trust Me. There are no details known yet about how exactly Risk will become a full length movie, except that it will be set in the modern day, and take place at locations all around the world. The fun doesn't stop there, however. Universal Pictures is also moving ahead with one of their video game adaptations that is so old that it might as well be a board game: Asteroids, one of the original Atari arcade hits back in 1979. The director that Universal is currently talking to for Asteroids is Roland Emmerich, who, more than any other modern director, has established his career on a string of big budget disaster movies (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012). Universal Pictures already has a script for Asteroids by screenwriter Matt Lopez, cowriter of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Bedtime Stories and Race to Witch Mountain. Roland Emmerich has reportedly imposed on himself a ban from directing any more "end of the world" movies, and the Asteroids script just barely upholds that: it's set after the end of the world. Totally different. In the Asteroids movie, "the remnants of human civilization are now living on far-flung colonies within an asteroid belt alongside aliens. The survivors were led to believe that this alien civilization was benevolent, rescuing them from doom, but ultimately discover that the aliens have engineered Earth's destruction, and soon will do the same for the rest of humankind." That scenario will also undoubtedly feature at least one triangle shaped spaceship that shoots pellets at large asteroids, which will then become medium-sized asteroids, and then finally small asteroids. As for the aliens in the Asteroids movie, there was indeed a UFO that would fly by every so often in the game, so Universal can't be accused of not being faithful to the source material.
#1 THIS WEEK IN REMAKE/REBOOT NEWS: DAREDEVIL, WEREWOLF, TMNT, AND... CHERRY 2000?
Wow, when Hollywood gets in the mood to unleash rotten news, they don't hold back. Normally, the Weekly Ketchup has ten stories each week, but there were so many remake/reboot stories this week, that (along with Rotten #2), this column actually covers 14 stories, 8 of which are Rotten Ideas. Fasten your seatbelts (well, no, you shouldn't be driving while reading this), because here we go. 20th Century Fox has hired TV writer Brad Caleb Kane, who has written three episodes of FOX's Fringe, to work on their reboot of the Marvel Comics character Daredevil. The reboot will be an adaptation of the Born Again storyline written by Frank Miller, in which the Kingpin uses his knowledge of blind attorney Matt Murdock's identity to ruin his entire life. That part would be fresh. That the new Daredevil is still to be directed by David Slade (30 Days of Night, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse), not so much. Brad Caleb Kane has also worked on DreamWorks' movie based upon the View-Master toy, director Bill Condon's planned Richard Pryor biopic, and a vampire movie called The Historian. Next up is yet another reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, just four years after the previous reboot of TNMT in 2007. The previous movies were distributed by New Line Cinema and then Warner Bros (the 2007 reboot), but this latest version is from Paramount Pictures. Paramount has hired screenwriters Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec to work on the next live action reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, following their work on the upcoming Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Next up is Universal Pictures, and a rumor/report that the studio has changed up its plans for a possible sequel to The Wolfman to another lycanthrope reboot that will instead be called Werewolf. Newcomer Michael Tabb was the writer originally working on the sequel, and he is reportedly now also adapting his script to be an original film instead. Finally, there is Cherry 2000, the 1987 science fiction film starring Melanie Griffith and Pamela Gidley, who played a "pleasure model" robot in the distant future of 2017. Producer Ed Pressman, who is also working on remakes of movies like Bloodsport and The Crow, is reportedly considering a Cherry 2000 remake as well. Melanie Griffith has already spoken to Pressman about the remake, and has suggested to him that it might be a good movie for Dakota Johnson, Griffith's daughter with Don Johnson, who had supporting roles in Beastly and The Social Network. Ah, the circle of life.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.