Weekly Ketchup: I Am Legend Director for Catching Fire?
Plus, new roles for Guy Pearce, Charlize Theron, Michael Douglas, and Steve Carell.
This week's Ketchup includes new movies based on TV's The Rockford Files, the Disney ride Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and DC Comics' Lobo, and new roles for Michael Douglas, Guy Pearce, Mark Ruffalo and Charlize Theron.
This Week's Top Story
KATNISS MAY BE A LEGEND IN CATCHING FIRE
With a November 22, 2013 release date already picked and looming in the not-so-distant future, Lionsgate moved quickly this week to replace departing Gary Ross on Catching Fire, the next movie in the trilogy begun by The Hunger Games. The studio's wish list quickly narrowed down to two choices: Bennett Miller (Moneyball) and Francis Lawrence (Water for Elephants, I Am Legend). As of this writing on Friday afternoon (and that's how closely the movie media is following all of this), an official offer has been made to Francis Lawrence as Lionsgate's first choice to replace Gary Ross. If Lawrence signs, there are still questions to be answered and quickly, such as the status of the script by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), which Ross (also a screenwriter) had previously been expected to work on this summer before the filming of Catching Fire starts. As would be expected, Catching Fire depicts the aftermath of the events of The Hunger Games, which all leads up to the final book and inevitable movie, Mockingjay.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 CHARLIZE THERON SIGNS ONTO MYSTERIOUS AGENT 13 PROJECT
One of the hottest directors this year continues to be Rupert Wyatt, coming off the undeniably expectation-exceeding success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. One of Wyatt's next projects will be another science fiction film called Agent 13, which got its start as a spec script from newcomer T.S. Nowlin. And that is very nearly all we know about Agent 13, except that Charlize Theron is attached to star in it. There are already two other characters known as "Agent 13:" In Get Smart, there was an Agent 13 often relegated to pointless duties (played by Bill Murray in the movie). Perhaps more relevantly, Agent 13 was the alias of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, to whom Charlize Theron actually even bears a resemblance. Since her aunt was the romantic lead in Captain America: The First Avenger, and she is one of Steve Rogers' long time romantic interests in the comics, it's a strong bet that Marvel may have plans to introduce Sharon Carter in the 2014 sequel. And so that leaves us with this question: is all of this just a coincidence, or is this Agent 13 (which currently has no studio attached) some sort of sneaky Marvel Studios spin off?
#2 GUY PEARCE'S CASTING CONFIRMS SOURCE OF IRON MAN 3
Just a week after the casting of Sir Ben Kingsley, Marvel Studios has found another actor to join Iron Man 3, and the character name pretty much confirms what Iron Man 3 is about. Guy Pearce (Memento, Lockout) will play geneticist Dr. Aldrich Killian, one of the central characters of Iron Man: Extremis, a story arc which was also turned into a motion comic (which you can watch on Netflix). Guy Pearce's character is the creator of a nanobot virus that eventually gets sold to terrorists, which is of course, bad news for Tony Stark. Director Shane Black is set to start filming Iron Man 3 in North Carolina in May, with the release set for May 3rd, 2013.
#3 WILL GEORGE WASHINGTON BE DARREN ARONOFSKY'S NEXT SUBJECT AFTER NOAH?
Much attention as of late has been on the ambitious new Noah epic from director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan), starring Russell Crowe as the Biblical ark builder. This week, the studio behind Noah, Paramount Pictures, made a new deal with Aronofsky's Protozoa Pictures which includes a movie called The General that Aronofsky would both produce and direct. Not that much is known about The General except two very enticing tidbits: it's about George Washington, and the premise is being compared to Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. The General comes from unexpected screenwriters: Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, cowriters of the comedies Accepted and New York Minute (and they also received story credit for Tower Heist).
#4 VINCE VAUGHN INHERITS JAMES GARNER'S ROCKFORD FILES
Universal Pictures has hired screenwriters to start work on a film adaptation of the 1970s NBC private detective TV show The Rockford Files, which originally starred James Garner. This will be the second James Garner TV series to become a movie after 1994's Maverick, starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and Garner himself. For the new Jim Rockford, Universal Pictures has signed up Vince Vaughn (who will also produce), whose on screen personality seems to match nicely with the Rockford character, a charming ex-con-turned-private detective. The film will be written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, whose past credits include Rounders and Ocean's Thirteen. Koppelman and Levien also made the news this week for an online gambling drama called Runner Runner. Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake will costar as business partners whose relationship sours. Director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) will start filming Runner Runner in June.
#5 OLD GUYS START TO SIGN UP FOR THE "OLD GUY HANGOVER"
Last Vegas is the title of a CBS Films comedy that has been compared to The Hangover, except with a quartet of stars in their 60s or 70s. This week, the comedy's casting really picked up with three different stars reportedly now in varying degrees of negotiations. First up is Michael Douglas, who is looking to make Last Vegas his return to the big screen after years of semi-retirement due to his recent medical problems. Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro (replacing Dustin Hoffman, previously in talks) are also in talks for roles. The fourth role is an African American ex-military man, which naturally might lead one to guess it might go to someone like Morgan Freeman or Danny Glover.
#6 THIS WEEK IN STEVE CARELL NEWS: FOXCATCHER AND A MOB COMEDY
Steve Carell's name came up in relation to two items this week. One of them is a true story crime movie that was first announced as featuring Carell and Channing Tatum last fall, and now has a title: Foxcatcher. This week, Mark Ruffalo signed up to play the center of the murder mystery, Olympic wrestler David Schultz, with Steve Carell attached to play his murderer, John du Pont. Foxcatcher will be the next film for director Bennett Miller after attracting so much attention for Moneyball in recent months. Steve Carell also made a deal this week with Warner Bros for an untitled comedy pitch which he will also cowrite. Jake Johnson, costar of The New Girl on FOX, will costar. Max Winkler (Ceremony) is attached to direct, in what will be his first big studio production.
#7 GOBLINS TO BE THE NEXT STOP MOTIONER FROM THE MAKERS OF CORALINE AND PARANORMAN
Laika Studios is the Portland, Oregon based stop motion animation studio responsible for Coraline and the upcoming ParaNorman. And now we know that their next project will be called Goblins, based on a recent British children's book (that comes out later this year in the USA). Mark Gustafson, animation director on Fantastic Mr. Fox, will be making his directorial debut with Goblins. Goblins tells the story of a young goblin named Skarper who lives in a castle with a bunch of other goblins who then discover an evil that Skarper needs to stop. Focus Features releases ParaNorman later this year on August 17, 2012.
#8 DISNEY IS SET TO GO OFF ON MR. TOAD'S WILD RIDE
In addition to all their other film projects based on theme park attractions (including Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom, and of course, Pirates of the Caribbean), Walt Disney Pictures is now developing a movie based upon Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. The Disneyland ride was itself based on Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, which formed one half of the 1949 Disney animated film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Grahame's fantasy adventure about a toad and his furry forest friends riding along in an automobile was also previously adapted as a 1996 British film featuring several Monty Python alumni. Disney's new adaptation is being planned as a CGI/live action hybrid that will mark the feature film debut of Pete Candeland, director of the opening of the The Beatles: Rock Band video game.
Rotten Idea of the Week
LOBO'S FRAKKIN' DIRECTOR IS...
Warner Bros has been developing a movie based on the popular DC Comics character Lobo for many years now, including a time when Guy Ritchie was attached (but he focused on the two Sherlock Holmes movies instead). This week, the studio found a new director, and the job is going to Brad Peyton, whose two films to date were Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, both of which were family friendly sequels with "Rotten" scores on the RT Tomatometer. Lobo is of course the popular alien mercenary with a rough and tumble bad boy personality and a habit of using imaginary swear words. He's a bit like an alien mashup of Wolverine and Deadpool on a spacefaring motorcycle. Anyway... WB's choice of director suggests the studio is aiming to make Lobo wacky and family friendly. And that's why it's the week's Rotten Idea.
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.