Weekly Ketchup: Muppets Sequel Officially In the Works

Plus, a Spongebob Squarepants sequel and new roles for Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, and Mark Wahlberg.

This week's Ketchup includes news about three different movies that may or may not be sequels (The Muppets, SpongeBob SquarePants and 21 Jump Street), as well as new movies for Christian Bale, Cameron Diaz, Scarlett Johansson, Emma Watson and others.


This Week's Top Story

SOMEDAY, WE'LL FIND IT, THE MUPPETS RECONNECTION...

Walt Disney Pictures is moving into development on a sequel to last November's The Muppets. The deal includes both director James Bobin and cowriter Nicholas Stoller, but Jason Segel, who also costarred, will not be returning as one of the sequel's screenwriters. That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that Jason Segel might not reprise his role in the sequel. Nothing is yet known about the planned sequel's premise, except that it will obviously feature Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, Gonzo and the rest in some sort of new comedic adventure. There's also no hint as to whether any of the new characters introduced in The Muppets, such as Walter, the Moopets or Eighties Robot will be returning.



Fresh Developments This Week

#1 SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS TO RETURN TEN YEARS AFTER THE FIRST FILM

Paramount Pictures has announced plans to release a new animated SpongeBob SquarePants in late 2014, in what may nearly be a de facto 10th anniversary celebration of the first film's release on November 19, 2014. SpongeBob SquarePants is of course a popular animated Nickelodeon TV series about a sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea, and has wacky adventures with his friends and coworkers. Paramount has not released any other details about the new SpongeBob SquarePants movie, including any of the creative people involved, or whether the film will be a sequel or a fresh new adventure spinning off from the Nickelodeon TV series. This new SpongeBob SquarePants is part of an initiative within Paramount to emphasize more on the studio's own animation, after a long period of reliance on DreamWorks (with which Paramount's deal is ending later this year). SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie (68% Fresh on the RT Tomatometer) was also the last in a series of theatrical movies based upon Nickelodeon TV series from 1998 to 2004 that started with The Rugrats Movie. Viacom president Philippe Dauman also cited Nickelodeon's increasing global presence as another reason why the studio is returning to SpongeBob SquarePants.


#2 EMMA WATSON TRIES ON SOFIA COPPOLA'S BLING RING

Not even a full year after the release of the final Harry Potter, Emma Watson already has four post-Potter films either released, wrapped or otherwise in development (My Week with Marilyn, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Your Voice in My Head, and Guillermo del Toro's Beauty and the Beast). This week, Watson added another film to the list by signing on to star in The Bling Ring, the next film from Academy Award winning writer/director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides). The Bling Ring is based upon the true story of a group of six teenagers who, in the late 2000s decade, stole about $3 million from Hollywood celebrities like Megan Fox, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. This true story has also already been adapted as a made-for-Lifetime movie called The Bling Ring, directed by Michael Lembeck (Tooth Fairy, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause). Three out of Sofia Coppola's four films to date have been Fresh on the RT Tomatometer (all except Marie Antoinette), which is why this is one of the week's Fresh Developments.


#3 CHRISTIAN BALE COMES OUT OF THE FURNACE

Christian Bale is now in negotiations with Relativity Media (Battle: Los Angeles, The Fighter, Skyline) to star in the prison/revenge thriller Out of the Furnace (formerly known as The Low Dweller), taking a role that both Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo Di Caprio were previously considering. Bale won't be alone, however, as Robert Duvall and Viggo Mortensen are both also in negotations (Viggo as the film's villain). Out of the Furnace is the story of a man who is released from four years of prison only to find that his young brother has been brutally murdered, which sets the ex-con forth on a path of bloody revenge. The role of the brother is currently casting, and the list of actors being considered includes Casey Affleck, Garrett Hedlund, Taylor Kitsch and Channing Tatum. Out of the Furnace was at one time being considered by director Ridley Scott, but the director now will be Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), working from a script by newcomer Brad Inglesby. Out of the Furnace is one of the week's Fresh Development based on both the RT Tomatometer for Crazy Heart and the general good will this writer has (to be honest, here) collectively for Christian Bale, Viggo Mortensen and Robert Duvall.


#4 SCARLETT JOHANSSON TO PLAY JAMIE LEE CURTIS' MOM

In what is being compared to Michelle Williams starring in My Week with Marilyn, this week gaves us the news that Scarlett Johansson has been cast as 1950s-1960s movie star Janet Leigh in Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. James D'Arcy (An American Haunting, Exorcist: The Beginning) has also been cast as Anthony Perkins, the star of the movie-within-this-movie. The other star of this movie will be Sir Anthony Hopkins, as the title character, and Dame Helen Mirren as Alma Reville, Hitch's wife. As the title suggests, this movie (based upon the book by Stephen Rebello) will tell the behind-the-scenes stories of how Alfred Hitchcock came to make Psycho, a movie which arguably redefined the horror genre in ways that are still resonating today. Documentary director Sacha Gervasi (Anvil! The Story of Anvil) will be making his non-fiction debut, working from a script by John J. McLaughlin (cowriter of Black Swan, Man of the House).


#5 JONAH HILL AND JAMES FRANCO TO TELL A TRUE STORY

Brad Pitt will be working again with his Moneyball costar Jonah Hill (as producer) as he and James Franco are both attached to star in a memoir adaptation called True Story. Michael Finkel's memoir True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa tells the, well, True Story, of how, in 2002, accused murderer Christian Longo used Finkel's name while on the run in Mexico, and how the two men eventually met to discuss Longo's case. Jonah Hill will be playing the reporter actually named Michael Finkel, and James Franco will be playing Christian Longo, who was on the run after his wife and three children were found in the waters off the coast of Oregon. True Story will be the feature film debut of director Rupert Goold, who has previously directed TV adaptations of Shakespeare's MacBeth and Richard II.

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#4 DIAZ, PALTROW, AND WITHERSPOON ARE FULL OF GLEE TO PROVE THEY WEREN'T ONE HIT WONDERS

Glee creator Ryan Murphy has cast Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon as a trio of 1990s pop stars who team up in the 2010s as a new pop supergroup in a movie called One Hit Wonders. Andy Samberg is also in talks for a role, and Beyonce has been mentioned as being a casting possibility (although her representatives were quick to note that she has not yet actually signed on to costar). Andy Samberg's participation is also expected to include musical contributions from him and his Lonely Island collaborators. The idea for One Hit Wonders spun out of a dinner between Ryan Murphy and his three stars. In addition to directing, Ryan Murphy will work on the script with his Glee coworkers Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. One Hit Wonders won't, however, be Murphy's next film, as it will have to wait until after he finishes filming his next film as director, the adaptation of the 1980s AIDS outbreak era play The Normal Heart. One Hit Wonders is one of the week's Rotten Ideas based mostly on the Rotten scores that Murphy's non-Glee movies (Running with Scissors and Eat Pray Love) received on the RT Tomatometer.


#3 MARK WAHLBERG MAY JOIN THE NAVY SEALS DRAMA LONE SURVIVOR

The big box office news this week was the success of Act of Valor, so it's not surprising that one of the Navy SEALS movies currently percolating through development scored some major news as well. Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch (John Carter, Battleship) and Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, X-Men: The Last Stand) are all in negotiations to play three of the four leads in the adaptation of Lone Survivor, a book by Marcus Luttrell. In Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell (who Mark Wahlberg would play) tells the story of how a team of SEALs fought to stay alive during a 2005 ambush by Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Lone Survivor will be directed by Peter Berg (Hancock, The Kingdom, Battleship), who also adapted the screenplay. It's also Peter Berg's recent history as director, with no Fresh RT score since 2004's Friday Night Lights, that landed Lone Survivor a spot as one of the week's Rotten Ideas.


#2 THE SWEDING OF ROBOCOP MIGHT FEATURE AN ACTUAL SWEDE

MGM's efforts to remake the science fiction/crime/action classic Robocop have seen the project go through ups (Darren Aronofsky!) and downs (Darren Aronofsky, again, or the lack thereof), but this week, the film finally got its first casting news. MGM has made an offer to Swedish-American actor Joel Kinnaman, costar of the AMC series The Killing and recent films like The Darkest Hour, Safe House and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Put politely, Joel Kinnaman is just shy of still being a mostly unknown actor to most movie fans, but a lead role in the Robocop remake might help expand his name recognition, if not his face (since he's likely to spend 80% of the movie with a huge metal pot/bowl/thing on his head). The current director of the remake is Jose Padilha (Elite Squad), working from a script by newcomer Josh Zetumer. Although both Joel Kinnaman and Jose Padilha have fans among both viewers and critics, this news is still one of the week's Rotten Ideas, because the question remains as to whether the world really needs a remake of Robocop. The original film, in particular, still stands up as being a well written and directed, dark and snarky comment on both modern culture and the movies themselves, even though this year marks the film's 25th anniversary.


#1 TWO WEEKS BEFORE IT EVEN COMES OUT, 21 JUMP STREET IS ALREADY GETTING A SEQUEL

Jonah Hill's attempt to turn the serious TV cop drama 21 Jump Street into a big screen comedy doesn't even come to theaters for another two weeks yet. Regardless, Columbia Pictures has already given Hill (who came up with the first film's story) the greenlight to start writing a sequel. There really isn't much else to say about the sequel, especially since this writer hasn't yet seen 21 Jump Street (since I no longer live out in the land of way-out-in-front advance screenings). The reasoning behind a 21 Jump Street sequel being the most Rotten Idea doesn't really have that much to do with whether or not 21 Jump Street is a Fresh or Rotten scored movie, anyway. This hastily planned sequel story gets that distinction for being exactly that: another example of a studio perhaps getting over eager and greenlighting a sequel before the studio or the world knows whether or not there's actually a demand for one. Well that, and there's also the whole notion of whether or not 21 Jump Street ever should have been turned into a randy teen comedy to begin with.

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.

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