Weekly Ketchup: WB and DC Comics Prepare for Justice League Push

Plus, a new Jackass, Hermione joins Noah's ark, and Isaac Newton kicks butt.

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This week's Ketchup has lots of superhero news, as well as news for the RoboCop reboot, Darren Aronofsky's Noah, Stephen King's IT, a new sequel for the Jackass franchise, and a movie with Jamie Foxx as the POTUSA.


This Week's Top Story

DC COMICS AND WARNER BROS' MASSIVE PLANS, POST THE AVENGERS

If this week's Ketchup was written in a completely different way, this one story could have nosed out nearly all other movie news of the week. However, it all really falls into one basic story angle, which is that the folks at Warner Bros are apparently sort of freaking out that The Avengers is the #3 box office success of all time, recently beating out both The Dark Knight and the final Harry Potter (both Warner Bros movies). The Avengers is of course the result of a long strategy on the part of Marvel Studios to create a Marvel Universe on the big screen in which the events of solo superhero movies then come together in a team movie, and also in each other's solo movies, etc. And so, WB and DC are apparently looking at doing that, too.... eventually. First up, there was the news that Warner Bros has hired one of the writers of ABC's Castle, Will Beall, to start work on a Justice League script. Will Beall also wrote this fall's Gangster Squad for Warner Bros, and has previously worked for the studio on scripts for the planned Logan's Run remake and Lethal Weapon 5. Of course, this is far from WB's first attempt at a Justice League movie, as Mad Max director George Miller actually almost filmed one back in 2007, until the WGA strike got in the way. Warner Bros has also hired one of the writers of Green Lantern, Michael Goldenberg, to work on the long-in-development Wonder Woman movie. Ah, but Warner Bros' plans for DC Comics superheroes don't just end at The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel, Justice League and Wonder Woman. Nope, another report this week gave the more complete list as also including Aquaman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Lobo, Shazam, Suicide Squad, and maybe a reboot of 2010's Green Lantern, too (whether that would be with or without Ryan Reynolds is unknown). Basically, that means that Warner Bros is now in active development on six of the Justice League's "Big Seven," with only J'onn J'onnz, AKA the Martian Manhunter, not having his own movie... yet.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 STEPHEN KING's IT TO BE SPLIT INTO TWO MOVIES

There hasn't been much news since 2009 about Warner Bros' plans for a feature film based upon Stephen King's 1986 novel IT, except that Guillermo del Toro remake in 2010 that he wished he had the time to direct. Perhaps Warner Bros was waiting to see if GDT would eventually find the time in his calendar, but now, two years later, the studio is moving forward with a different director. Cary Fukunaga, the director of last year's visually stunning remake of Jane Eyre (and 2009's Sin Nombre), has signed with the studio to direct and cowrite the adaptation of IT, with the twist being that the 1,100+ page novel will be adapted as not one, but two movies. Cary Fukunaga's writing partner will be Chase Palmer, an unproduced screenwriter who has previously worked on Paramount's now-scrapped plans to reboot Frank Herbert's Dune. IT was previously adapted as a two part ABC mini-series in 1990, starring Tim Curry as the evil clown-shaped monster Pennywise who terrorizes a group of friends both as children and thirty years later as adults.


#2 SAMUEL L. JACKSON IN ROBOCOP: HE'D BUY THAT FOR A DOLLAR?

The MGM/Sony story-within-the-story reboot of RoboCop continued to accumulate an impressive cast this week with the addition of Samuel L. Jackson as Pat Novak, a "charismatic media mogul." This is a new character, but it might give us a hint as to new ground that the story might cover. The near future world of the original 1987 film included frequent images of a television landscape dominated by a comedian whose catchphrase was "I'd buy that for a dollar!" Australian actress Abbie Cornish (Limitless, Sucker Punch) has also been cast as Officer Murphy's wife, who is under the belief that her husband is dead, and not a very expensive new cyborg. Samuel L. Jackson and Abbie Cornish have already been preceded by Joel Kinnaman (AMC's The Killing) as Officer Alex Murphy and Gary Oldman as the scientist behind the RoboCop cyborg techology. Jose Padilha (Elite Squad, Bus 174) will be directing the RoboCop reboot, which is scheduled to start filming in Toronto in September, aiming for a release date sometime in the summer of 2013.


#3 WILL HERMIONE GRANGER BOARD THE ARK IN NOAH?

Director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler) is well into the casting of his Biblical epic Noah, and this week, that resulted in three major roles being cast. Young actors Douglas Booth (Pip in the recent Great Expectations mini-series) and Logan Lerman (3:10 to Yuma) have been cast as Noah's sons Shem and Ham, respectively. Soon after, Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame was announced as being in negotiations to play a character named Ila, who is a romantic interest for Shem. Possibly not coincidentally, Logan Lerman has ties to two of his cast mates, as he was in 3:10 to Yuma with Russell Crowe (who plays Noah), and he will also be seen in The Perks of Being a Wallflower with Emma Watson. The reunions may not end there, as Jennifer Connelly is also rumored to be in talks to join the cast as Noah's wife, which will be the second time for her, after also playing Russell Crowe's wife in A Beautiful Mind.


#4 HOPEFULLY NOT A PRANK: PLANS FOR JACKASS 4: BAD GRANDPA REVEALED THROUGH DOMAIN REGISTRATIONS

The Jackass film franchise continues to be a lucrative investment for Paramount Pictures, and the RT Tomatometer scores for the second and third movies were even "Fresh." So, it's perhaps not surprising that a website this week discovered that the studio has purchased over a dozen domains this week with addresses like jackass4movie.com, jackass4badgrandpa.com, and badgrampa.com. All of that suggests that Paramount is planning on releasing a movie called Jackass 4: Bad Grandpa (or alternatively, Jackass 4: Bad Grampa). That title is a reference to one of their pranks, in which Johnny Knoxville puts on fairly convincing "old man" makeup and then goes out in public and embarasses himself. So, the next question is whether Jackass 4 will focus solely on such "Bad Grandpa" pranks, and not on other non-old-man stunts as the first three movies also did. One reason that Knoxville and friends might be making the change to focusing on "Bad Grandpa" might be their own advancing ages, and the increasing likelihood that they could seriously injure themselves. Johnny Knoxville turned 41 this year, and Ryan Dunn died last year in a (non-Jackass-related) alcohol-related automobile accident at the age of 34.

Rotten Idea of the Week

#5 GUY RITCHIE'S NEXT PERIOD PIECE REINVENTION MIGHT BE TREASURE ISLAND

Back in 2010, the world found out that Warner Bros was developing a "stylized adaptation" of Robert Louis Stevenson's pirate novel Treasure Island when director Paul Greengrass dropped out of the Fantastic Voyage remake to possibly focus on it. Well, we're now two years on, and Greengrass is apparently no longer involved, but instead, one of WB's current favorite directors is. Guy Ritchie, the director of the two recent Sherlock Holmes movies, has attached himself to direct the new Treasure Island. Newcomer screenwriter Alex Harakis has also been hired to start work on adapting the screenplay. One should count this story as a "borderline" Rotten Idea, as Guy Ritchie's RT Tomatometer scores are just about evenly divided.


#4 JAMIE FOXX WILL BE THE PRESIDENT IN WHITE HOUSE DOWN

The trailer for Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained debuted online this week, featuring Jamie Foxx in the title role. Also, this week, we found out about another of Foxx's upcoming roles, and it's one that adds him to a proud cinematic and television tradition made most famous by Morgan Freeman and that guy from those insurance commercials. Jamie Foxx is going to play the President of the United States of America in the action movie White House Down. Jamie Foxx, however, is not the reason this is one of the Rotten Ideas of the week. Nope, that has more to do with it being directed by Roland Emmerich, he of the big disaster movies like 2012, The Day After Tomorrow and Godzilla. Maggie Gyllenhaal has also been cast as one of the Secret Service agents working alongside the already cast Channing Tatum, who will be the movie's actual leading man. In other Channing Tatum news, he confirmed this week that he is indeed signed (along with Mila Kunis) to star in Jupiter Ascending, the next science fiction action film from directors Andy and Lana Wachowski. That film's premise was also revealed online this week, and the gist is that it involves aliens who are monitoring humanity's progression up the evolutionary ladder, towards our eventual place as dwellers among the stars. Mila Kunis will play a Russian immigrant toilet scrubber who possesses the exact same genetic profile as the Queen of the Universe, which makes her a threat.


#3 CAPTAIN AMERICA SEQUEL: YOU, ME AND BUCKEE, AND THE BLACK PANTHER RUMORS, TOO

Their names had been mentioned as being in contention a while back, but this week, Marvel Studios confirmed that the directors of the Captain America sequel will be Anthony and Joe Russo. The Russos are best known for their work on TV shows like Community, Arrested Development and Happy Endings (which they cocreated), but they also directed such films as You, Me and Dupree and Welcome to Collinwood. As great as those TV shows are, You, Me and Dupree is... the opposite, and that's mostly why this is one of the week's Rotten Ideas. Anyway, the currently untitled Captain America sequel is scheduled to hit theaters on April 4, 2014, and it's expected to continue the story of how Steve Rogers reacts to waking up to the modern world, following the events of The Avengers. In other Marvel news, this is a good place to mention that one of the hot stories online this week was the rumor that the other Marvel movie in 2014 will be Black Panther. Black Panther is, of course, a classic member of The Avengers, whose setting of the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda would make a great cinematic setting. However, Marvel was quick to debunk this report as being just a rumor. Which is not to say that Marvel isn't indeed developing a Black Panther movie... just not in time for a 2014 release date, probably.


#2 THE LATEST NON-NARRATIVE MOVIE SOURCE IS... THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS

There's been very little success for movies based on non-narrative books (What to Expect When You're Expecting opened in the #5 spot, for example), but Hollywood continues to try them as source material, regardless. The latest example is The Guinness Book of World Records, which Warner Bros is currently negotiating a rights deal for. As the title suggests (for those few who aren't familiar with it), The Guinness Book of World Records has, since 1955, been keeping track of all varieties of people, places, things and achievements that can be measured qualitively or quantitively. This movie concept also shares some traits with Ripley's Believe It or Not!, which Paramount Pictures has been trying to get made for several years now, but at least in that case, there was the author Robert Ripley to use as a central character. The job of trying to create a narrative thread for a two hour movie has been assigned to screenwriter Danny Chun, who has worked as a writer and producer on several episodes each of The Office and The Simpsons.


#1 ISAAC NEWTON, ACTION HERO

Some people, it appears, have never heard of Hudson Hawk. Admittedly, the reason for that movie's box office demise may have more to do with the singing duo of Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello, but it did also feature a premise based on the action/adventure appeal of the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci. And anyway, somehow, I'm making a logical bridge between Da Vinci and famed physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton. The reason is that producer/director Rob Cohen, who has many credits, but is best known for The Fast and the Furious franchise, is developing an action adventure movie based on the life of Sir Isaac Newton. Yes, really. The basis for this idea is that a lesser known fact about Newton was that he spent decades as the "chief detective and head of the British Mint," during which time he spent much of his career helping track down counterfeiters, and helping the Crown convert from silver to gold currency. Sir Isaac Newton also later on became an infamous eccentric, most likely because of prolonged mercury poisoning as a result of decades dabbling in alchemy, which sounds like a much more interesting premise for a movie. Anyway, Rob Cohen is going to work on the script himself, while also overseeing a "graphic novel" (AKA a comic book) based on the script. This is the week's Most Rotten Idea not so much because of the idea of a movie about Sir Issac Newton, but because it's a Rob Cohen action movie... about Sir Isaac Newton.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.

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