Weekly Ketchup: Dark Shadows, Sherlock Holmes and more

Get caught up on last week's film production news.

#1 TIM BURTON DIRECTING A GOTHIC DRAMA? GET OUT!

The news broke last summer that Johnny Depp's production company had picked up the rights to adapt the classic horror-themed soap opera, Dark Shadows, as a feature film, with indications that Depp might be interested in starring as the show's most memorable character, Barnabas the Vampire. Now, who do you think Johnny Depp would ask to direct a spooky movie that involves gothic-style imagery? I have no idea! If you're a smart cookie, then you probably sussed out that it would be Tim Burton, which is what IESB.net broke the news on this week , by talking to a different director who's working with the project's screenwriter, John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), on another movie (the Shazam! movie). This will mark the 4th collaboration for Burton and August, and the 7th for Burton and Depp. Anyway, the original soap opera accomplished quite a bit with a small budget, and it's kind of easy to see how it might influenced Tim Burton's style, so he's a perfect match for this. Here's hoping Burton films it in black and white like the original show, and his previous film featuring vampire capes, Ed Wood.



#2 ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR %#*%#@!

Guy Ritchie has signed on with Warner Bros. to direct their adaptation of the classic Victorian Era detective, Sherlock Holmes, by way of an upcoming comic book version that focuses not so much on his brilliant deduction and intelligence as his no doubt awesome, action-friendly "skills as a boxer and a swordsman" (so says Variety). This was (sort of) what was attempted 20+ years ago with Young Sherlock Holmes, which was actually a pretty awesome, if forgotten, little adventure (and sort of an uncanny predecessor to the Harry Potter movies). I have slightly dimmer expectations of this project, as it seems extremely typically Hollywood to try to remake Sherlock (Freakin') Holmes as a sword-wielding brawler. However, although I suppose seeing Guy Ritchie's vision of the gritty side of the Victorian Era might be a treat, even if the movie ends up being a spectacular disappointment (see also: Swept Away). Ritchie is reworking the script (expect lots of funky British profanity?), and Warner Bros. hopes to get this one in theaters by 2010.



#3 REBOOT GETS A... OH, IT'S TOO EASY

Premiering in 1994, the sci-fi adventure show, ReBoot, featured CGI that no doubt looks antiquated compared to what we're used to today, but it's also an important landmark as the first entirely CGI TV show, and it also happened to be a fun show. ReBoot basically took the premise of Tron (a world inside a computer) and did what Disney failed to do by not continuing the concept into the 1990s and beyond, albeit without light cycles. Well, ReBoot is getting a new chance at life with news of a feature film, based on stories that are currently appearing at the show's official site. Of course, it's also true that animated science fiction movies don't exactly have the best track record (Titan A.E., Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, etc). That's a trend that needs to be bucked eventually though.



#4 WHY DON'T WE JUST PRETEND CAPRICORN ONE GOT REMADE?

Director John Moore, who worked with 20th Century Fox on previous unnecessary remakes The Omen and Flight of the Phoenix has signed on with the studio to do a redo yet again. This time, it's Capricorn One, the 1978 conspiracy thriller that helped support wingnut theories that man never actually landed on the moon, by telling the story of a faked Mars landing on a studio set that goes awry, leading to the astronauts being targeted for assassination. With NASA landing their little robot gadget things on the Red Planet on a regular basis now, with plans to maybe someday send actual humans there, I can see how Capricorn One might seem timely now. But, I don't think that means it particularly needs to be remade. Anyway, the script is by Peter Buchman (Eragon and Steven Soderbergh's upcoming Che Guevara movies), and John Moore's next movie will be the video game adaptation, Max Payne.



#5 KEIRA KNIGHTLEY TO BE MY FAIR LADY

Although I sometimes want to slam my forehead against my keyboard whenever I get news of yet another remake, in the case of My Fair Lady, it's sort of difficult to be too damning, as Pygmalion (its sources) is one of those properties (like say, A Star is Born) that is sort of known for being reinvented for each new generation. This time around, poverty-stricken Eliza Doolittle will be portrayed by Keira Knightley, who should have no problem looking like a starving flower girl, circa 1912. The movie is being produced for Columbia by a British stage production team who are aiming to combine the musical's songs with more source material from George Bernard Shaw's original play, Pygmalion. The next step then, is probably the casting of Professor Higgins, with there being no shortage of established British actors in that approximate age range.



#6 BRIAN DE PALMA TO PLURALIZE THE BOSTON STRANGLERS

Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables) has signed on with Valhalla Motion Pictures (The Incredible Hulk, the Punisher movies) to direct The Boston Stranglers, based on a non-fiction book of the same title that suggests that the several murders committed in Boston in the early 1960s were not the sole work of the one individual, Albert DeSalvo, who confessed to them. Although he has made films in other genres, Brian De Palma is primarily known as a thriller helmer, and he recently made The Black Dahlia, which was also based upon a notorious murder case. As the Hollywood Reporter story notes, De Palma is in need of a hit, but considering the box office performances of The Black Dahlia and David Fincher's Zodiac, I doubt this will be it.



#7 CLINT EASTWOOD TO SING "I'M DIRECTING MATT DAMON!"?

Clint Eastwood certainly knows how to stay busy, with The Changeling recently premiering at Cannes, filming starting up soon on Gran Torino, and his next movie now announced for a January, 2009 production start in South Africa in the form of The Human Factor. This third movie will star Morgan Freeman as South African leader Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as rugby player Francois Pienaar in the true story of a sports event designed to bring blacks and whites together behind a common sports team. The thing I find myself wondering about this project is whether it means we'll be seeing Matt Damon adopting a South African accent, because I don't think we've ever seen him do that too much, so it's sort of new territory for him, I might guess. Or, I guess, he could just stick with his "how 'bout dem apples" Bahston accent. Or not.


#8 I SPIT ON YOUR REMAKE

The stampede to remake just about every horror movie ever produced between 1965 and 1985, the latest entry in the remake frenzy is one of the most notorious horror movies ever made, I Spit on Your Grave. The 1978 original is about a woman who is raped and left for dead, who then goes on a rampage of revenge. In other words, it's exactly the sort of grindhouse movie that likely inspired Quentin Tarantino to make Kill Bill. Savaged by critics at the time for being too ultra-violent, as the original director notes, in the era of Hostel and Saw it could actually now be perceived as relatively tame. Which means, I guess, that we will probably get a remake that aims for the very limits of what audiences can bare to look at for 80 or so minutes. Anyway, that Variety article is actually a pretty funny read for a trade report. Check it out for an awesome paraphrase from Roger Ebert.


#9 MARVIN PROBABLY IS A BETTER TITLE THAN GAYE

Hollywood producers have a thing for occasionally going up against each other with dueling projects (Steve Prefontaine, volcanoes, Truman Capote, CGI fish, etc), and the life story of Motown singer Marvin Gaye appears to be the latest subject to be fought over, as a new project called Marvin has emerged that will focus on his entire life, to be directed by F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Italian Job). The competition for Marvin is the previously announced Sexual Healing, which is expected to start filming soon, starring Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order) and James Gandolfini, which will focus on Gaye's later years, leading up to his murder at the hands of his father. Basically, it sounds like Marvin is aiming to be a tribute to Gaye as a musician (Ray, Walk the Line), whereas Sexual Healing is more of a "dead celebrity" project, like Auto Focus or Hollywoodland.



#10 ZOMBIES: THEY'D LOVE TO MEAT YOU

Finally, this week brings news about three different zombie/undead projects, and they're not even all of the zombie projects out there (Brad Pitt's World War Z being the highest profile example, I think). First off, there is Army of the Dead, which was formerly announced, but it now has a director signed in the form of Matthijs van Heijningen, a commercial director making his debut with this Warner Bros. project about a father trying to rescue his daughter from a Las Vegas over run by the walking dead, in a project that I've heard will have a fairly massive scale for a zombie movie.

Next up is The Harvard Zombie Massacre, which sounds like a Shaun of the Dead-ish comedic romp, telling the story of what happens when a zombie outbreak forces Harvard's smartest students to defend themselves against Harvard's smartest... zombies. The Harvard Zombie Massacre will be produced by Warren Zide (the American Pie and Final Destination franchises), with filming expected to start in early 2009.

Finally, there is Wake the Dead, which is technically more of a "reanimated corpse" (ala Frankenstein) story than a straight "zombie" tale, but I figure it's more or less in the same category. Dead is dead, except when it ain't. Anyway, Wake the Dead is based upon the IDW comic book series of the same title about a strange high school kid who tries to bring one of his classmates back to life, and will be produced down in New Zealand, with Peter Jackson's WETA handling the creature effects. Jay Russell (My Dog Skip, The Water Horse), who usually does kids movies, will be directing from a script by James V. Hart (cowriter of Muppet Treasure Island and The Last Mimzy).


You can contact Greg Dean Schmitz via a message at the RT Forums, the thread there devoted to him, or his MySpace page.

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