Weekly Ketchup: Adam Sandler to Produce Tonka Trucks Movie

Plus, new roles for Charlize Theron, Jean Dujardin, Chris Hemsworth, and Lindsay Lohan.

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This week's Ketchup includes news about movies based on Tonka toy trucks and the Splinter Cell video game series, villain roles for Noah and the RoboCop reboot, and new roles for Lindsay Lohan, Charlize Theron, and recent Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin.


This Week's Top Story

ADAM SANDLER WANTS YOU TO WATCH HIM PLAY WITH TONKA TRUCKS... SORT OF

Let's do the math. Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar brought in a total of over $1 billion worldwide with the 2006 and 2011 releases of Cars and its sequel Cars 2. That pales in comparison to the *five* billion in toy sales and other Cars-related merchandise. And so, considering all that leads us to... Sony Pictures Animation, Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions and Hasbro have announced a deal for a CGI animated family movie based on the Tonka brand of toy trucks. There has never been much of a story behind them, but since 1955, little kids have been playing with Tonka trucks and other construction equipment toys, making engine revving and honking sounds as they play around in the dirt in their mom's garden or in the local sandbox. And now, (at least) dozens of millions of dollars and probably hundreds of thousands of work hours will be spent adapting that experience into a 90-ish minute big screen experience. The task of creating a narrative story around Tonka trucks will be handled by one of Adam Sandler's former coworkers from his years on Saturday Night Live, Fred Wolf. Previously, Fred Wolf cowrote Grown Ups with and for Sandler, cowrote Dirty Work with and for Norm McDonald, cowrote Joe Dirt and Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star with and for David Spade, and wrote the Chris Farley/David Spade comedy Black Sheep.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 EVERYTHING'S A TRILOGY NOWADAYS: BEFORE SUNRISE 3 STARTS FILMING SOON

Sequels are common in many genres (action, horror, comedy, etc), but not so much for other types of films, such as, say indie talkathons from the 1990s. Nonetheless, 1995's Before Sunrise, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy did get a sequel in 2004 with Before Sunset, once again directed and written by Richard Linklater (School of Rock, Dazed and Confused). Taken together, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset tell the story of two people from very different backgrounds who meet for one day in European cities at different stages of their lives. Nine years separated those films, and 2013 will mark the nine year mark since Before Sunset. So, it's perhaps not surprising that Ethan Hawke revealed this week that he, Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater will reunite once again for the next film, to be filmed sometime this summer. That, however, is about all that we know about this third Before film, including any hint of the premise, what city will be visited next (Vienna and Paris were the first two) or even the title. Some spitball guesses at the title include Before Midnight, After Sunrise, Before Sunday, or Before Lunch.


#2 EVERYBODY, SOLVE A MYSTERY, ALL TOGETHER, CHARLIZE THERON, YOU AND ME

Considering how she supposedly learned American English, Charlize Theron might appreciate that headline. Anyway, the story here is that Charlize Theron is coproducing and is in negotiations to star in a currently untitled comedic mystery to be directed by John Madden (Proof, Shakespeare in Love), who is currently enjoying box office success with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Filming will start in early 2013 on the story of an American couple abroad who get involved with trying to solve a murder mystery, in what is being described as an "affection deconstruction" of an Agatha Christie story. The script was written by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac; cowriter of The Rundown), who is currently getting a lot of work in Hollywood, with his upcoming credits including The Amazing Spider-Man, the RoboCop remake, and Roland Emmerich's White House Down. The role of Theron's cinematic husband is next up to be cast. In the meantime, Charlize Theron is preparing for filming to finally start next month on the long-awaited Mad Max reboot, for which Theron this week got a haircut which attracted a lot of online attention.


#3 JEAN DUJARDIN'S FOLLOW UP TO THE ARTIST WILL BE FOR MARTIN SCORSESE

Whenever an actor emerges into mainstream attention after seemingly appearing out of nowhere, the question of what he will do first after all that attention is usually quite a big deal. At this year's Academy Awards, that distinction surely went to French actor Jean Dujardin, who won an Oscar for Best Actor in The Artist, the year's big film at the ceremony as well. The answer to that question aligns Jean Dujardin with the director of one of the other films (Hugo) that was competing for attention against The Artist. Jean Dujardin is now in negotiations to join the cast of The Wolf of Wall Street, to be directed by Martin Scorsese. Dujardin will be joining frequent Scorsese collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jonah Hill (also from one of 2011's award contenders, Moneyball). In The Wolf of Wall Street, Jean Dujardin will play a Swiss banker who becomes involved with the "illegal dealings" perpetuated by DiCaprio's Wall Street wheeler-dealer character, and all of this is based upon a best-selling memoir and true story.


#4 DR. HOUSE TO BE THE MAIN VILLAIN IN THE ROBOCOP REBOOT

Fans of the original RoboCop have been hoping for casting news about Clarence Boddicker (originally played by Kurtwood Smith from That 70s Show), but it turns out the reboot's main villain won't be Boddicker at all. Instead, Hugh Laurie, coming off his run as the star of House M.D., will be the villain this time around, as "the evil and ultra-rich CEO of Omnicorp, the company that makes RoboCop." In the 1987 film, there was also a villainous character who was an OCP executive, VP Dick Jones (played by Ronny Cox), but he wasn't the actual CEO of the company (that was "The Old Man" played by Dan O'Herlihy). Hugh Laurie joins a growing cast that already includes Joel Kinnaman as Officer Alex Murphy, Gary Oldman as the scientist behind RoboCop, and Samuel L. Jackson as a media mogul. MGM and Sony are planning on releasing the new RoboCop in the summer of 2013, directed by Jose Padilha (Elite Squad, Bus 174).


#5 RAY WINSTONE TO PLAY THE VILLAIN IN NOAH, WHO IS PRESUMABLY NOT AN ANTHROPOMORPHIC FORTY DAY RAIN SHOWER

Ray Winstone is a British actor best known for his tough guy supporting roles in movies like The Departed, The Proposition and Cold Mountain, and for starring with Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast (they also costarred together in Hugo). This week, Ray Winstone started negotiations for a role that may elevate his status, as he will be playing the villain in Darren Aronofsky's Noah, based on the Biblical tale of the Ark and the flood. Darren Aronofsky considered several other actors, including Val Kilmer, in search with "the grit and size to be convincing as he goes head to head against [Russell] Crowe's Noah character." Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Douglas Booth have also already been cast in Noah, with the role of Noah's wife still remaining to be cast (presuming the role doesn't go to Russell Crowe's A Beautiful Mind costar, who has been long rumored for it).


#6 ATTACK THE BLOCK DIRECTOR'S NEW NEIGHBORHOOD IS CYBERSPACE IN SNOW CRASH

Scott Pilgrim Vs the World received a lot of online attention for a box office performance that didn't seem to live up to its pre-release hype. That film, however, did great business in comparison to the 2011 release of the alien invasion action comedy Attack the Block, which ended up making just over $1 million in the United States (it did much better in the United Kingdom, where it originated). Regardless, that film's director Joe Cornish impressed many with what he was able to do with a relatively small budget of 9 million pounds. So, it's not surprising that this week, Joe Cornish landed a big studio sci-fi gig. Cornish has signed with Paramount Pictures to direct their adaptation of the seminal 1992 cyberpunk novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, which has been in and out of development for nearly all of those 20 years since. Set in the near future, Snow Crash depicts a world in which a pizza delivery guy named "Hiro Protagonist" (one of the greatest character names ever) fights to stop the collapse of civilization by a computer virus that zaps the brains of anyone who is unlucky enough to be exposed to it via a computer screen. Cornish will also adapt the script, as well as directing, after recently working with Edgar Wright on The Adventures of Tintin (with Steven Moffat), and on Edgar Wright's still-in-development adaptation of Marvel's Ant-Man.


#7 CHRIS HEMSWORTH COULD USE THE GOD OF THUNDER'S HELP IN THE HEART OF THE SEA

After starring in two of this year's most entertaining movies (The Avengers and the overlooked Cabin in the Woods), Chris Hemsworth has signed on for a movie that involves neither superheroes nor mermen (well, probably not). The movie in question is an adaptation of the non-fiction book In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, which tells the true story of the 19th century whaling vessel Essex, which was itself the inspiration for Herman Melville's classic novel Moby Dick. As you can read from the synopsis here, this true adventure tale set in the pre-industrialized era South Pacific is a survival story about 20 whaling sailors stuck at sea for ninety days. The adaptation of In the Heart of the Sea was written by Charles Leavitt, whose previous films include Blood Diamond and The Express. The project is still seeking a director and a studio, so it will probably have to wait until after Chris Hemsworth finishes filming Thor 2, which starts production soon. And that little segue leads us to some Thor 2 casting news, which is that Chuck star Zachary Levi is in negotiations to replace Josh Dallas as Fandral (one of the Warriors Three) so the latter can focus on his role as Prince Charming in ABC's Once Upon a Time.


#8 UBISOFT'S SPLINTER CELL SERIES IS STEALTHILY SEEKING A STUDIO, SIBILANTLY

Back in May of 2011, the top story of the Weekly Ketchup was the news that game publisher Ubisoft was interested in turning three of its top game franchises (Assassin's Creed, Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell) into movie franchises as well. Thirteen months later, we now have news that Ubisoft is in talks with two different studios about taking on Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, about the adventures of stealthy NSA operative Sam Fisher. The first studio to be in negotiations was Warner Bros, but now Paramount Pictures is reportedly the frontrunner. If the deal is made with Paramount Pictures, it would be an example of corporate synergy, as Paramount is also the studio behind Clancy's Jack Ryan movies. After years of difficult development, Paramount currently has the next Jack Ryan project getting closer to production, with Chris Pine (also Paramount's new Captain Kirk) playing a younger Jack Ryan for director Kenneth Branagh, who also directed Thor for, you guessed it... Paramount Pictures.

Rotten Idea of the Week

#1 LINDSAY LOHAN AND PORN STAR JAMES DEEN JOIN... FORCES IN THE CANYONS

This one basically writes itself. Using financing from a Kickstarter campaign, the elements are coming together for an independent thriller called The Canyons "that documents five twenty-somethings' quest for power, love, sex, and success in 2012 Hollywood." The first two names to be revealed to play the five leads are Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen. Here's a link to the Wikipedia page for James Deen, which is probably the safest link you can follow using his name in a search. As if Lindsay Lohan, a male porn star and a Kickstarter campaign weren't enough to make this film noteworthy, there's more. The Canyons was written by novelist and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis, who gave the world the novels that became Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, and American Psycho. Oh, but wait, there's more. Finally, The Canyons will be directed by none other than Paul Schrader, the writer-turned-director whose collaborations with Martin Scorsese included Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ. As a director, Paul Schrader's filmography includes American Gigolo, Cat People (1982), and the kinky quasi-Hogan's Heroes biopic Auto Focus. Paul Schrader's filmography obviously has some really high marks, but his later career in particular has almost as many "Rotten" scores on the RT Tomatometer as well. But really, the reason The Canyons is the week's Rotten Idea has mostly to do with... Oh, do I really need to say it?

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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