Weekly Ketchup: James Cameron Plans a Fantastic Voyage

Plus disturbing rumors about Spider-Man 4

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This week's Ketchup includes a remake of Fantastic Planet, a crazy Spider-Man 4 rumor, new roles for Natalie Portman, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston and yet more movies riding the coattails of The Twilight Saga.


FRESH DEVELOPMENTS


#1 JAMES CAMERON PRODUCING MUCH SMALLER MOVIE THAN AVATAR: A REMAKE OF FANTASTIC VOYAGE

Although he hasn't picked his next movie as director (it may be either Battle Angel or an Avatar sequel), James Cameron did announce this week that he will be producing a remake of the 1966 science fiction adventure Fantastic Voyage. He'll be producing for 20th Century Fox, who has had this planned for a long time. Fantastic Voyage told the story of a team of scientists who are shrunk down to microscopic size and sent into a tiny submarine into the body of a dying scientist. The movie was also adapted as a novel by Isaac Asimov (making many people, including myself, think that it was actually an Asimov story first). Although Cameron won't be directing Fantastic Voyage himself, he's on board as a producer so that Fox can take advantage of Lightstorm Entertainment's new technology (created for Avatar) to create the "world" of the inside of a guy's body. The Fantastic Voyage remake was written by Shane Salerno (Aliens vs Predator: Requiem; cowriter of Armageddon).


#2 JOSH BROLIN PUTTING ON TOMMY LEE JONES' SUIT IN MEN IN BLACK 3?

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Josh Brolin is being considered for a role in Men in Black 3. He'd be playing the young version of Tommy Lee Jones' Agent J when Will Smith's Agent K character travels back in time. It's not yet known if Tommy Lee Jones will be returning, or if Brolin will completely be his replacement as the character. Sony hopes to get Men in Black 3 in production in 2010, filming at least partly in New York, with Barry Sonnenfeld (the director of the first two movies) in talks to direct from a script by Etan Cohen (cowriter of Tropic Thunder, Idiocracy).



#3 PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES AND NATALIE

Natalie Portman has signed on to star as Elizabeth Bennet in Lionsgate's adaptation of the popular mash-up novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (and Jane Austen, sort of). The concept of the book is that Grahame-Smith took Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and then added his own material to the book, so that Austen's mannerly romantic novel because a book about zombie hunting (and still some romance as well). The same publisher (Quirk Books) recently followed it up with Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Although this new sub-genre runs the risk of inspiring tons of really awful imitators, for now, I'm staying hopeful. Natalie Portman will also be producing the project, which doesn't yet have a screenwriter or director.


#4 YOU'VE JUST KILLED A BUNCH OF VILLAINS, DEADPOOL. WHAT'S NEXT? I'M GOING TO ZOMBIELAND!

Although this hasn't been published in the trades yet, this story from CHUD sounds legitimate, and so I'm running with it. The site is reporting that the writers that 20th Century Fox has found for their highly-anticipated (by comics fans, at least) Deadpool movie are none other than Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, AKA the guys behind this year's comedy hit Zombieland. Although I didn't think Zombieland was a perfect movie, it was certainly a lot of fun, and it's quite easy to see the connection in tongue-in-cheek tone between Zombieland and Deadpool. For those unfamiliar with the character, the "Merc with a Mouth" specializes in over-the-top assassinations of minor Marvel Comics characters, accentuated by frequent comments "through the fourth wall," directly to the reader. In movie form, this has the potential of feeling like a superhero version of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and so Deadpool has the potential to be quite awesome. If CHUD's story pans out, it sounds like 20th Century Fox may have found the right guys for the job.


#5 ADAM SANDLER AND JENNIFER ANISTON PLAYING PRETEND

Columbia Pictures is in talks with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston to star in Pretend Wife, a romantic comedy previously known as Holiday in Hawaii. The premise of the story is unknown, but it appears to possibly involve a honeymoon in Hawaii for a couple that's only pretending to be married (just guessing, based on the two titles). The top contender to direct is Dennis Dugan, who has worked with Sandler several times before (Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, You Don't Mess with the Zohan). Sandler's Happy Madison is also producing, and the script is by Allan Loeb (cowriter of 21) and Tim Dowling (cowriter of Role Models). Columbia is hoping to start filming in early 2010 and is eyeing a pre-Valentine's Day release date of February 11, 2011.


#6 DIRECTOR SAM MENDES GOES BUFFALO HUNTING AT BUTCHER'S CROSSING

While The Road is depressing audiences across the country, the film's writer, Joe Penhall, is taking advantage of the its current buzz to find his next project. Next up for Penhall is Butcher's Crossing, a Western with a premise that sounds a bit like Heaven's Gate (which was Michael Cimino's legendary bomb blamed for ending the 1970s run of Hollywood by auteur directors). The similarity is that Butcher's Crossing is about a young man who drops out of Harvard to pursue his dream of heading West, which takes him to a small Kansas town where he joins the search for a large buffalo herd. Butcher's Crossing, which is based upon a 1960 novel by John Williams (not the composer) is being developed by Focus Features, who are hoping that Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) will direct.


ROTTEN IDEAS OF THE WEEK


#4 TWILIGHT STUDIO TAKES ON THE ORIGINAL YOUNG VAMPIRE

Summit Entertainment is continuing to look for ways to stretch out the audience for its Twilight Saga franchise, and now that includes going all the way back to the guy that started it all. Along with Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, Summit is developing Vlad, a script by actor Charlie Hunnam (Nicholas Nickleby) about Vlad the Impaler, the Transylvanian prince that inspired the story of Count Dracula, focusing on his ascent to his land's throne as a young man. Although there's little evidence that Vlad the Impaler was actually a vampire, he did build a nasty reputation as someone who came up with particularly gruesome ways of torturing and executing people. Anthony Mandler, a music video director, is in talks to direct. Interest in Mandler is based on Summit's executives being impressed with a reel of his past work (which includes 10 Rhianna videos). This story is a Rotten Idea because although it might be cool to see Hollywood tackling Vlad the Impaler, the obvious connection to The Twilight Saga suggests that this is likely to be the sort of teen-girl-friendly glossing over of his legend that isn't exactly what most of us were expecting from a Vlad movie.


#3 THE MASTER OF THE TEEN DANCE MOVIE IS SKIPPING ROPE

Duane Adler, the screenwriter for Step Up and Save the Last Dance, is now working on Jump Around, a teen dance drama that will address the exciting world of competitive high school jump roping. Yes, as in the childhood pasttime of skipping rope. And this time around, Adler will also be directing. Seriously, Hollywood, you make my job of coming up with fake stories for April Fools' Day harder every year! The script is about a group of teenagers who form a "Double-Dutch jump roping team," at their high school to compete in an international competition. There's no word yet on when the independent production will start filming.


#2 DISNEY BETTING ON FALLEN ANGELS

Just as the young adult book market has been following the Twilight model for a few years, Hollywood is now also trying to copy that franchise's success by optioning as many of those subsequent series as possible. The latest example is Disney, which has optioned rights to Fallen, a book by Lauren Kate that was published this week and is part of a planned four-book series. Fallen tells the story of a teenage girl who finds herself torn between "two charismatic young men, unaware that they are fallen angels who have battled over her for centuries." In other words, instead of immortal vampires and werewolves, this girl's love interests just hew closer to a more family-friendly Christian/Biblical mythology. Now that angels are taken, I can't wait to see what mythological characters get pegged into the format next. I'm still betting on Smurfs.


#1 WILL SPIDER-MAN 4 TOTALLY CHANGE ONE OF PETE'S CLASSIC LOVE INTERESTS?

Okay, right up front, this writer wants to let you know that he thinks this story is total bunk. However, it involves Spider-Man 4, and so I can't really ignore it either. Movieline is reporting that John Malkovich is in talks to costar in Spider-Man 4 as the Vulture, one of Spidey's original villains (debuting all the way back in The Amazing Spider-Man #2 in 1963). Okay, that right there is not the ridiculous part, and Malkovich could indeed be a pretty great choice to play the Vulture. No, the really strange part of the story is that the magazine is reporting that the character of Felicia Hardy, who Anne Hathaway is the top choice to play, won't be the Black Cat as she's always been in the comics. Nope, they're saying that instead she will be a completely new character, made up just for the movies, called the Vulturess, who is obviously some sort of sidekick for the Vulture. The article caps it by saying that the Lizard won't be in the movie at all, because the "suits" don't want an odd-looking enemy, preferring villains whose faces you can see (the Vulture doesn't wear a mask). Okay, I know Sam Raimi didn't do a great job with Spider-Man 3, but I really can't see this being the route he'd go with Spider-Man 4. Why completely change Felicia Hardy into being a different villain rather than just introduce a new character for the role? And why create a goofy-sounding character like the Vulturess at all? I think someone seriously yanked Movieline's chain on this one, but I'd also be remiss if I didn't report on it, even if I think it's totally fake. And if it's not fake, expect Spider-Man 4 to quickly become the most fan-mocked superhero movie since Catwoman.


For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS through his MySpace page or via a RT forum message.

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