Weekly Ketchup: Pixar Secretly Working on Toy Story 4?

Plus, the next Coen Bros. film and sequels for Thor and Green Lantern.

This Week's Ketchup includes news about possible sequels Toy Story 4 and Green Lantern 2, potential new roles for Denzel Washington and Haley Joel Osment and a few other unexpected adaptation concepts (like a movie based upon Disney's The Matterhorn).

This Week's Top Story

DID TOM HANKS LET SLIP THAT PIXAR IS SECRETLY WORKING ON TOY STORY 4

Following Toy Story 3, Pixar has maintained that there are no story ideas for a fourth Toy Story feature film, although the characters continue to appear in shorts in front of movies like Cars 2 and this November's The Muppets. This week, however, Tom Hanks may have let the cat out of the proverbial bag while being interviewed by the BBC. At the end of the piece, when Hanks was asked about Toy Story 4, he replied, "I think there will be, yeah, yeah, I think they're working on it now." Now, that isn't much to go on, but given the popularity and success of the three Toy Story movies, even the suggestion that there will be a Toy Story 4 is enough to be this week's Top Story. Since this statement by Tom Hanks is literally all we know about Toy Story 4, that also means that we don't know details like writers, directors or even what the story might be about. The next three scheduled Pixar films are Brave (6/22/12), Monsters University (6/21/13) and an original project from Up codirector Pete Docter (11/27/13), so if Toy Story 4 is happening, we won't be seeing it in theaters until at least 2014.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 DENZEL WASHINGTON MAY BE AN AMERICAN CAN STAR

Will Smith has been trying for a few years now to get a movie made based on the events of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. That movie will be American Can, based on the true story of ex-Marine John Keller, who led a group of survivors who were trapped in the American Can apartment building by eleven feet of flood water for several days. Will Smith had originally been expected to star in American Can, but he is now in talks with Denzel Washington to play John Keller instead. Writer/director John Lee Hancock, whose previous films include The Blind Side, The Rookie and The Alamo, is working on adapting the American Can story, which he will also direct.




#2 THE COEN BROS' NEXT MOVIE TO BE A FOLK MUSICAL

Like many top directors, Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit, No Country for Old Men) have many projects that they talk about working on someday. For the Coen Brothers, that list includes the sequel Old Fink, a Jesus-centric spin off of The Big Lebowski and an adaptation of the James Dickey novel To the White Sea. Following a comment earlier in June that they were working on a music-related script, it was revealed this week that Joel and Ethan Coen are working on a script loosely based upon the life of folk singer Dave van Ronk. Dave van Ronk was a central figure in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s, and his friends included several singers who rose to greater fame, such as Bob Dylan, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Joni Mitchell and Phil Ochs. Van Ronk died in 2002, and his memoir The Mayor of MacDougal Street, which was published posthumously in 2005, is serving as the basis for the Coen Bros' script. The Coens have also already said that their script will be similar to movies like Margot at the Wedding, suggesting a use of "natural dialogue" and the sense of being dropped into the middle of an ongoing community. This project will also include musical performances, and in that way, could be seen as a follow up to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Coen Bros' other heavily musical movie.


#3 CHRISTOPHER MELONI TAKES MAJOR ROLE IN MAN OF STEEL

A month after surprising his fans by leaving Law & Order: Special Victims Unit after 12 seasons, Christopher Meloni has signed a deal to take on a "major role" in Zack Snyder's Superman movie Man of Steel. Some fans suspected that Meloni might be playing Lex Luthor (because they're both bald), but Meloni was quick to dispel that notion, saying that he will be playing "a general." Christopher Meloni will start filming in August, and will be with the production for five months at locations including Chicago, Vancouver and Edwards Air Force Base. There are two major figures in the DC Comics Universe that Christopher Meloni seems most likely to be playing: General Sam Lane (Lois Lane's father) and General Wade Eiling, AKA The General, who went on to become a major superpowered villain for the Justice League of America. Christopher Meloni joins an ever expanding cast that already includes Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Julia Ormond as Lara, Michael Shannon as General Zod and Antje Traue as Faora. Warner Bros has scheduled Man of Steel for release sometime in December of 2012.


#4 THOR 2 IS CONFIRMED AND GIVEN A 2013 RELEASE DATE (AND SO ARE MANY OTHER MOVIES)

This week, as the big 4th of July weekend approached, signaling the mid point of one summer, Hollywood made many release date announcements for the summer of 2013. The biggest news in this category was the announcement by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures of their plans for Thor 2, which will be released on July 26, 2013, making it the second Marvel movie of that summer, following Iron Man 3 on May 3, 2013. Chris Hemsworth will return to play the Norse God of Thunder, but director Kenneth Branagh will not be returning, so the search is on for a replacement. That same month will also see the release by Warner Bros of Guillermo del Toro's big monster movie Pacific Rim on July 12, 2013. Universal Pictures also made big release date news this week by claiming both the Memorial Day and the 4th of July weekends (not that other studios can't challenge, and most likely will, of course). Universal is scheduling the sixth movie in the Fast and the Furious franchise for May 24, 2013 and the Jeff Bridges/Ryan Reynolds zombie cop comedy R.I.P.D. for June 28, 2013. That Universal is putting R.I.P.D. on that weekend is very similar to the way that Columbia Pictures has scheduled the Men in Black movies for that weekend in the past. Finally, Columbia Pictures has scheduled the new science fiction film Singularity from director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012) for May 17, 2013, which was previously the date that Universal Pictures had announced for The Dark Tower (which is now unlikely to make that date). Not much else is known about Singularity, except that it is likely not related to the video game of the same title. Other movies scheduled for the summer of 2013 include DreamWorks Animation's Turbo (6/7/13), Despicable Me 2 (7/3/13) and Oblivion (7/19/13), starring Tom Cruise.


#5 THE SIGNPOST UP AHEAD READS... GET READY FOR A ROD SERLING BIOPIC

Newcomer producer Andrew Meieran (formerly of Los Angeles real estate) has acquired the rights to make a movie based upon the life story of early TV producer/writer Rod Serling. In addition to being the creator, producer, frequent cowriter and narrator of The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling also went on to create another TV show called Night Gallery, and cowrote the original Planet of the Apes. Serling died in 1975 at the early age of 50 following heart surgery. Screenwriter Stanley Weiser, who wrote the George W. Bush biopic W. and cowrote Wall Street, will adapt the screenplay based on Rod Serling's life.





#6 HALEY JOEL OSMENT TO SEE DEAD PEOPLE AGAIN

In what could arguably be an act of stunt casting, Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) has been cast as the young Victor Franklin in Wake the Dead, an adaptation of a comic book based upon Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Wake the Dead is a modern retelling of the concept, with Victor Frankenstein anglicized into being Victor Franklin, a young medical student who starts experimenting with corpses. Haley Joel Osment was 11 when The Sixth Sense came out in 1999, but he is now 23. Wake the Dead is based upon a comic book by Steve Niles, who also wrote the comics that 30 Days of Night and its sequel were based upon. Wake the Dead will be directed by Jay Russell (Ladder 49, Tuck Everlasting) from a script he cowrote with James V. Hart (Bram Stoker's Dracula; cowriter of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life). Filming of Wake the Dead is expected to start soon, which gives the independent production a head start on the half dozen other movie projects also based on Frankenstein. The idea of Haley Joel Osment playing a modern version of Frankenstein in Wake the Dead is a borderline Fresh Development, based mostly on director Jay Russell's track record of movies mostly rated "Fresh" by the RT Tomatometer (every movie of his except Ladder 49).

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#3 DISNEY ADDS MATTERHORN TO THEIR CINEMATIC THEME PARK TOUR

In the past 10 years, Walt Disney Pictures has established an in-studio trend of developing movies based on the attractions at their various theme parks. The most successful example is obviously Pirates of the Caribbean, but there have also already been movies based on The Haunted Mansion and The Country Bears. The movies that are still in development include Jungle Cruise, a reboot of The Haunted Mansion being produced by Guillermo del Toro, David Fincher's adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Jon Favreau's Magic Kingdom, which takes a Night at the Museum approach to many different attractions. Now, the studio has hired screenwriter Jason Dean Hall (cowriter of 2009's Spread) to adapt the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland as The Hill. The Hill will be about "five young adventure seekers who, for mysterious reasons, are called to the top of the mountain and encounter a Yetis (sic) on the journey down." The Matterhorn ride also features Yetis, although it's worth mentioning that Yetis are generally considered cryptozoological creatures of the Himalayas, which aren't even on the same continent as the Swiss Alps where the real life Matterhorn is.


#2 WARNER BROS. IS CONSIDERING THEIR OPTIONS ABOUT GREEN LANTERN 2

This was a big week for Green Lantern news, as the film plummetted in its second weekend at the box office, forcing Warner Bros executives to figure out where their DC Comics franchise goes next (besides Batman and Superman movies). The first story gave the impression that Warner Bros would move ahead regardless. However, the next day, Warner Bros sources painted a different picture, which is of a studio struggling to balance the reality of low box office with plans for future movies that have been loosely in the works for a while now. The question appears to be whether a Green Lantern 2 can be made on a lower budget that would not then set the box office expectations so high. Of course, Green Lantern wasn't just a box office failure, but a critical one as well. There may be bright news on that front, however, as it has recently been revealed that there may be a director's cut of Green Lantern which is drastically different from the "studio cut" that was actually released. One has to wonder if perhaps Warner Bros could release the Martin Campbell Director's Cut on DVD and Blu Ray, in the hopes of changing the public's (and the critics') opinion about the very idea of a Green Lantern film franchise. As it stands now, however, the idea of a Green Lantern 2 is still a Rotten Idea.


#1 JOSEPH CONRAD'S HEART OF DARKNESS... IN SPACE!

Production company Radar Pictures (The Box, The Invention of Lying) has Peter Cornwell (The Haunting in Connecticut) to direct a science fiction thriller called Into Darkness. And now, here's the really Rotten part. Into Darkness is an adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness (the basis for Apocalypse Now), but instead of being about a ferryboat on an African river, Into Darkness will be set in... outer space. Into Darkness was adapted by screenwriter Tony Giglio, whose work has all gone direct-to-video in the past, and actor-turned-screenwriter Branden Morgen. There's no other details known about Into Darkness, except that it will probably be about a spaceship looking for someone nefarious named Kurtz on a remote planet... or something.

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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