Weekly Ketchup: Dwayne Johnson May Be Hercules

Also, new projects for Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro, and Disney's next theme park adaptation is extreme.

After last week's column that was almost entirely Rotten, this week saw the movie news cycle return to a more stable balance. These ten stories feature some big names both in front of (Dwayne Johnson, Johnny Depp, Paul Walker) and behind the camera (Guillermo del Toro, Edgar Wright), as well as a Nelson Mandela biopic and a movie about Irish hero Cú Chulainn.


This Week's Top Story

DWAYNE JOHNSON'S GRANDMA MIGHT CLAP AND EXCLAIM, "HERCULES! HERCULES! HERCULES!"

The world may never actually get to see Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson star in the long-planned Kamehameha historical biopic that was much talked about in the early 2000s. Instead, Johnson is now in talks with MGM to star in Hercules, to be directed by Brett Ratner (Tower Heist, X-Men: The Last Stand and all three Rush Hour movies). Rather than being directly based upon the original Greek myths about the demi god Hercules, this Hercules movie will be based upon two comic book series published by Radical Publishing: Hercules: The Thracian Wars and Hercules: The Knives of Kush. As detailed on their Wikipedia page, Radical's strategy as a company "in the comic book business is to create properties that are pre-packaged for adaptation to film and other media." The Hercules script was adapted from those comic books (and the related materials created by Radical to help sell the property) by Ryan Condal, who also cowrote the currently shelved Warner Bros adaptation of John Milton's Paradise Lost.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 JOHNNY DEPP'S NIGHT STALKER ATTRACTS DIRECTOR EDGAR WRIGHT

One could interpret Johnny Depp's current movie plans as being in the midst of a wave of TV series adaptations. Depp has a cameo in next month's 21 Jump Street (the show that launched his career); in May, he stars in the 1960s-1970s soap opera adaptation Dark Shadows, and then in 2013, he'll be playing Tonto in The Lone Ranger, which, among other things, was one of the original hit TV series (1949 to 1957). On top of all that, Johnny Depp is also producing and is likely to star in a Walt Disney Pictures adaptation of the 1974-1975 ABC TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker, about a reporter whose cases regularly involve supernatural beings like vampires, werewolves and zombies. Although Disney's The Night Stalker doesn't yet have a writer to actually adapt a script, the studio has already hired Edgar Wright, the British director of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim Vs the World. The Night Stalker joins Edgar Wright's still-in-development Marvel Comics adaptation Ant-Man, which is also based at Walt Disney Pictures as part of Disney's 2009 acquisition of Marvel, and Wright is also still developing The World's End, which will end the "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy" of movies starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.


#2 GUILLERMO DEL TORO'S DAY OF THE DEAD ISN'T A REMAKE

Given director/producer Guillermo Del Toro's long ties to the horror genre (Cronos, Mimic, The Devil's Backbone), one might reasonably expect a movie titled Day of the Dead to be a zombie remake. Or, one could remember that del Toro is Mexican, and that "Dia de Muertos" is a major holiday there, and that would be the correct assumption. Guillermo del Toro will be producing a CGI animated film called Day of the Dead that is scheduled for release in the fall of 2014 (November 1-2 being the dates of the festivities). Day of the Dead will tell "a Romeo and Juliet style love story set against a Mexican 'Day of the Dead' backdrop." The film will be directed and cowritten by Jorge R. Gutierrez, the writer/animator/producer of the 2007-2008 Nickelodeon animated TV series El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera. At this point, Day of the Dead also appears to be an independent production, but Guillermo del Toro's involvement will undoubtedly help the movie secure distribution at some point in the next 30 months.


#3 MICHAEL FASSBENDER TO BE BOTH THE COUNSELOR AND CU CHULAINN

After a very successful year that included roles in Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method and Shame, Michael Fassbender continues to land hot new roles on a fairly regular basis. One of his upcoming roles is in Ridley Scott's Prometheus, and after a few weeks of rumors, this week we found out for sure that Fassbender and Scott will be working together again soon. Fassbender will star in The Counselor as an attorney who gets involved with the drug business. The project is developing very quickly, as it was just a short while ago that novelist Cormac McCarthy (The Road, No Country for Old Men) sold it as his first ever spec script, and then soon after, Ridley Scott came aboard as director. The next step is the casting of the film's villain, and the actors that are reportedly being considered for the prime role include Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Brad Pitt. Michael Fassbender is not content to just star in other people's projects, however, as he is also getting into producing. The Irish/German actor has his eye on the legends of Cú Chulainn, the central figure in the Ulster Cycle in Irish mythology of the 8th century. To get the project started, Michael Fassbender has hired Public Enemies cowriter Ronan Bennett to start cracking on adapting the original Old Irish poems.


#4 IDRIS ELBA: FROM THE WIRE AND THOR TO... THE NELSON MANDELA BIOPIC

South African leader Nelson Mandela has been showing up quite a bit in the movies lately, as portrayed by Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Terrence Howard (Winnie) and David Harewood (Mrs. Mandela). What the world hasn't yet gotten, however, is a proper biopic just about Mandela himself (and not, say, his wife or a sports team). That is, however, not for the lack of trying, as attempts to adapt Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, have been ongoing for about a decade now (including a time, pre-Invictus, when Morgan Freeman was expected to star in it). Now, Idris Elba (The Wire, Thor) has confirmed that not only is he signed to star as Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom, but that filming is scheduled to begin later this summer. What isn't yet known is who will be directing, or what the status of the screenplay currently is.


#5 DREAMWORKS REVEALS THEIR STAR-STUDDED TURBO CAST

Except for Megamind, we're currently in a near-streak of sequels and spin offs from DreamWorks Animation, but after Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, the opposite will happen: five original movies in a row. The third film in that line up will be the 7/19/13 release Turbo, about a snail whose dreams of racing are fulfilled when he somehow is endowed with super speed. This week, we found out who exactly will be starring in Turbo, and it's quite a list. Ryan Reynolds will be providing the voice of Turbo himself, while the rest of the voice cast includes (in alphabetical order) Snoop Dogg, Paul Giamatti, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader, Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michael Pena, Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz and Kurtwood Smith. Longtime DreamWorks animator David Soren will be making his feature film directorial debut with Turbo after previously directing the direct-to-video title Merry Madagascar.

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#4 WARNER BROS REPLACES SHELVED LIVE ACTION AKIRA WITH PLANS FOR BLEACH

Warner Bros has been making movie news for years now with their plans for a live action Akira remake, but that project has now been indefinitely shelved. However, the studio seems intent on bringing some manga to live action, as Warner Bros is now developing an adaptation of Tite Kubo's Bleach. In the original manga series, a teenager with the ability to see spirits gets an upgrade to his abilities when he becomes a "Soul Reaper," a personification similar to the Grim Reaper. Bleach has also already been adapted as an anime TV series, four anime feature films, a series of rock musicals, a series of video games and a collectible trading card game. Warner Bros has recruited comedy director Peter Segal (Get Smart, Anger Management, 50 First Dates) to produce, and potentially direct. The screenwriting adaptation will be handled by Dan Mazeau, whose feature film debut will be as a cowriter of Warner Bros' upcoming sequel Wrath of the Gods. The reason Bleach is one of the week's Rotten Ideas mostly has to do with the strange decision to give this manga adaptation to a comedy director, and a screenwriter whose only credit to date is a sequel to a remake that wasn't particularly well received.


#3 JOHN MCCLANE'S SON WILL BE... NEWCOMER JAI COURTNEY

Ever since 20th Century Fox revealed that the fifth film in the Die Hard series, A Good Day to Die Hard, would prominently feature John McClane, Jr. (as well as Bruce Willis as his dad), there have been a lot of names rumored to be in the running for the role. At various points, that list has included D.J. Cotrona, James Badge Dale, Liam Hemsworth and Aaron Paul. This week, however, we found out who actually landed the role, and it is... nearly unknown Australian actor Jai Courtney. Jai Courtney has appeared in several episodes of Spartacus: Vengeance and will costar with Tom Cruise in One Shot. Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney's father/son adventures will take them to Moscow, where they will fight bad guys, save the world, and such. Director John Moore (Max Payne, Flight of the Phoenix) will start filming A Good Day to Die Hard in April, and 20th Century Fox has already scheduled the film for release on February 14, 2013. John Moore's RT Tomatometer scores are also why A Good Day to Die Hard continues to be a Rotten Idea... especially for long time fans of the franchise.


#2 PAUL WALKER TO SCALE A SKYSCRAPER FOR UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Paul Walker has signed a producing deal with Universal Pictures that comes along with him signing on to star in the studio's disaster movie, Skyscraper. This week's story doesn't really explain what Skyscraper is, but if we go back a few years to 2008, the announcement back then explained that Skyscraper is a Towering Inferno-style disaster movie about a mile high building in Chicago that goes wrong, forcing a crew to save the city from mayhem (presumably because a building that big is about to fall on everyone's heads). One also has to wonder if this is truly a sign that we are moving past post-9/11 paranoia, into the time when a movie about a massive skyscraper falling down is seen as a suitable entertainment. There's no director for Skyscraper yet, and the script's writer Mike Sobel doesn't yet have any proper credits outside of working as an assistant on two direct-to-video sequels. In addition to Paul Walker presumably getting a producer credit, Skyscraper will be produced by Neal Moritz and Original Films, with whom Paul Walker has worked in the past on the Fast and the Furious movies. And, speaking of which... Walker's next movie will be Fast & Furious 6, which is already scheduled for release on May 24, 2013. As for why Skyscraper is one of the week's Rotten Ideas... here's a link to Paul Walker's RT Tomatometer page. Nuff said, right?


#1 DISNEY'S YETI/MATTERHORN MOVIE TO BE TOTALLY EXTREME, TO THE MAX!

Walt Disney Pictures continues to develop movies based on other theme park attractions besides Pirates of the Caribbean, but in the case of at least one of them, the connection seems to be variable. The ride in question is the Matterhorn at Disneyland, and the movie that is supposedly inspired by it is currently untitled, and may not have the word Matterhorn in it at all. This week, Disney hired screenwriter Ehren Kruger (The Brothers Grimm, Scream 3, Transformers: Dark of the Moon) to work on the screenplay, and along with that hiring, we got a synopsis for the movie. Whatever the title ends up being, the movie will be about "five young adventure seekers -- an action sports guy, travel guide, cartographer, archeologist and escape artist -- who venture into the Alps for mysterious reasons and face Yetis that guard a secret." It's worth noting that "Yetis" are a myth most often associated with a completely different mountain range (the Himalayas) which are way, way, way far away from the Alps, but to be fair, that's a mistake that the Disneyland ride has always made as well. As for why this untitled "hardcore adventuring" theme park adaptation movie is the week's Most Rotten Idea, it isn't really because of (just) that, anyway. Nope, it's because of all the little green splotches on Ehren Kruger's RT Tomatometer page.

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.

Comments

Movie Monster

Bentley Lyles

All the Fresh developments sound good except Turbo. The premise just sounds stupid. I'm not a big fan of The Rock so I'm not looking forward to that Hercules movie.

Feb 24 - 07:12 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

For me, the most exciting news has to be "The Counselor". In fact, not much else comes close.

I heard that Justin Chadwick is directing the Mandela biopic, but that may be a rumor.

I'm glad that the Rotten news all hone in on the atrocious talent behind the camera: Peter Segel, John Moore, and Dan Mazeau (who also has shelved scripts for "The Flash" and "Johnny Quest" under his belt). Brett Ratner and Ryan Condal deserve a place at this table. And three words that have haunted Hollywood for 15 years - "screenwriter Ehren Kruger". "Bleach" furthers the suspicion that Hollywood studios have no respect for Anime properties, thinking they can just churn out some B-grade confection for kids (apparently) and then piss and moan about those fickle fanboys not being happy. WB's resentment at the poor reaction to their decidedly anemic leaked script for "Akira" has been clear. "Bleach" almost seems like spite and revenge.

I think "Dia de Muertos" can be a visual feast, but since I'm more familiar with Gutierrez for "Mucha Lucha", I'm hoping it's comic rather than purely romantic. I hope "The World's End" gets finished by then. I might be the only person a little disappointed that "Lone Ranger" won't have any werewolves. But am I the only one who thinks "21 Jump Street" looks bunk as bath salts? I can imagine a "Fast Times"/"Hiding Out" style high school comedy updated to the NCLB era, but this looks more like "Cop Out: Back in Training". I'm might also be the only one slightly grateful that "Skyscraper" isn't a reboot of the Anna Nicole Smith film.

Feb 24 - 07:26 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

00 - Really? That's a fucking top story, RT? The Rock? I don't understand why people try and come up with "unique" ideas for these mythological characters. I can guarantee you that nothing they come up with will beat the original mythos. Also - Brett Ratner. 'Nuff said.
01 - I'll watch anything Wright makes, the dude is amazing. Can't wait for World's End, both Shaun and Fuzz were fantastic.
02 - I don't know about this... while I'm a huge fan of Del Toro and love most of his movies, the ones he "guides" and doesn't actually make usually end up sucking something fierce.
03 - I really like Cormac's books, with Road & No Country making particularly great adaptations. Hopefully his first original screenplay is good. I'm down for it. I'll reserve judgement on the other movie since we know nothing about it.
04 - Idris as Mandela? Don't see it. Freeman - yes. Elba - no.
05 - Shrug.
06 - Never got into Bleach, and don't plan on starting now... so this news is whatever.
07 - Wow... this sounds spectacularly awful. The fourth movie was fucking terrible, and this will probably be more of the same. He has a full-grown son now? Damn, John, how many kids you got stashed in closets and shit?
08 - SuperShrug.
09 - SuperMegaUltraShrug.

Feb 24 - 09:56 PM

King  S.

King Simba

Hercules might be good. I know fanboys aren't going to forgive Brett Ratner anytime soon for The Last Stand, but his movies are usually pretty fun if nothing great.

Edgar Wright hasn't let me down yet, and this Night Stalker adaptation sounds particularly interesting. I'm also excited for Day of the Dead and the Counselor is getting more and more interesting with each new anouncement.

As for the rotten news, can't really argue much with it, except with the new Die Hard movie. As I said before I think the Die Hard franchise seems to be resistant to subpar directors, as neither the director of Die Harder or Live Free of Die Hard were all that promising. Bleach, however, sounds terrible. If Warner Bros. really wants to have a succesful anime adaptation at least get the right directors for the job. I liked Get Smart and Anger Management is one of my guilty pleasures (thugh admittedly I was 15 the last time I saw it, so I'm not sure how I would think of it if I saw it now) but getting Peter Segal to direct an anime adaptation is just wrong.

Feb 25 - 12:17 AM

Daniel O.

Daniel OReilly

Kruger must have some powerful friends. Otherwise, I don't understand how he can keep getting work.

Feb 25 - 12:42 AM

Bram S.

Bram Sterling

Turbo sounds odd

Feb 25 - 03:35 AM

That Random Albino Kid

Dominic Dold

who has seen titanic the animated movie? ITS PARTY TIME!

Feb 25 - 09:07 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

The Rock in anything that kids will see equals CHA CHING!

Johnny Depp has been in a lot of crappy movies lately but he has been the best part of those crappy movies. He's like a flamboyant Liam Neeson

Idras Elba is fantastic, I'm sorry that people demanded Whites only Vikings in Thor but please everyone pissed about that get over it and recognize that Elba is more than capable of playing Mandella. I'm looking forward to this.

I like Del Toro's imagination, a lot.

Fassbender, Scott, and Cormac McCarthy on the same project? this is the future Oscar Snub we will all be raging about!

Wow dreamworks. Let me guess, Turbo is a young snail who dreams of racing there for is shunned by society until one day society realizes only someone like Turbo can save there entire society. Then it ends by everyone dancing together which is also used for the promo.

A 5th Die Hard sounds bad but an unknown playing McClain Jr is great news. I think we are all tired of Sha Lebouf being the Jr of everything and Miley Cyrusus boyfriend as an action hero just seems silly.

Feb 25 - 09:56 AM

Christopher Finkle

Christopher Finkle

I don't understand why Disney doesn't just adapt the queue to Expedition Everest (the mountain-themed roller coaster at Animal Kingdom in Florida). It has a complete story right there, with characters enumerated in the museum, potential for a climactic train-based action scene, great atmosphere from the already-researched Tibetan surroundings... why not make a film about 40's adventurers looking for the Yeti in the Himalayas?

Feb 25 - 01:05 PM

Myron

Myron Kinsey

A live action adaptation of Bleach, remember the live action Dragon Ball movie? Remember how that turned out? Some things just should not be adapted into movies.

Feb 25 - 02:11 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Oh yeah, there was a DB movie, wasn't there? It's amazing how the mind can just erase something that offensively bad from memory.

Feb 25 - 03:32 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Oh yeah, there was a DB movie, wasn't there? It's amazing how the mind can just erase something that offensively bad from memory.

Feb 25 - 03:32 PM

Sean D.

Sean D

Michael Fassbender in 'The Counselor?' Dear God. I. CAN'T. WAIT.

And as long as Shia LaBoeuf isn't in the next Die Hard, I will watch it.

Feb 25 - 04:24 PM

Kriftonucci

Jim Ylonen

If anyone is to direct (and should) Bleach, it's Quentin Tarantino. If you watch the anime series, you'll see they somewhat share philosophical POV. But seeing as he's abhorrent to CG, I digress.

Feb 25 - 07:20 PM

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