Weekly Ketchup: Wolverine in Japan, Family Guy movie planned

Plus Fox greenlights Deadpool, new roles for Vin Diesel and The Rock.

This week's Ketchup features five new projects for Hugh Jackman following the success of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, two new movies each for Ben Stiller and Ray Stevenson, as well as new prjects for Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Keanu Reeves and even... Peter Griffin?


After X-Men Origins: Wolverine opened last weekend to $85 million, it's not surprising that 20th Century Fox is already developing a sequel). On half of the prints in theaters there is a scene after the credits that shows Wolverine drowning his sorrows in a Japanese bar (the other half showcase Deadpool, see story #2). That scene is indeed intended to be a teaser for Wolverine 2, which will see Logan heading to Japan, a popular and long-running setting for his adventures in the comics. In Japan, Logan studied with (and fought) samurai warriors, and fell in love with Mariko Yashida, the daughter of a powerful crime lord, and all of these elements are likely to be the basis for this second Wolverine movie. Although he's not mentioned officially anywhere, one likely villain for the sequel is the mutant known as Silver Samurai, who is Mariko's half-brother, and has the ability to cover his sword with a powerful energy that can disintegrate almost anything (except, of course, adamantium). Wolverine 2 is not Jackman's only upcoming project however, as he is also attached to Personal Security, Drive, Carousel and Ghostopolis, all of which (except Ghostopolis) Jackman is also producing through his Seed Productions. In Personal Security, Jackman will play a New York detective forced to play bodyguard to a spoiled teen heiress who is receiving kidnapping threats. In Drive, Jackman will star as a getaway driver in a project that is being described as having the tone of a Steve McQueen film. Carousel is a modern-day remake of the classic 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, with Jackman reportedly interested in getting Anne Hathaway to costar. Finally, there is Ghostopolis, a Disney project based upon an upcoming graphic novel in which Jackman will star as an agent for the U.S. government's Supernatural Immigration Task Force, which makes sure that ghosts who have escaped into the world of the living are returned back to where they belong. However, things go wrong when a living boy ends up on the other side, and so the agent must team up with a ghost girl and venture to Ghostopolis to save the boy. That's five movies announced in one week!


Although it had been pretty widely known that the character of Wade Wilson was included in X-Men Origins: Wolverine because of possible plans for a Deadpool movie, apparently the studio had not yet officially started development on a film about the popular comedic assassin known as The Merc With a Mouth. Following Wolverine's big opening, that has now changed, and Ryan Reynolds is expected to return as Deadpool (as he is known to fans of the popular Marvel Comics character). The project is currently out to writers, and there is no director yet. One obstacle that the movie might face is that it will have to find a way to adapt the character of Wade Wilson as he is last seen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine into being more like the character that that comics fans know and love; Deadpool has a propensity for making wisecracks during action scenes and "breaking the fourth wall" and talking directly to the audience. One step in that direction is already in effect, as the movie's post-credits ending, on 50% of the prints does indeed have a scene featuring Wade Wilson. An interesting thing to perhaps notice about this week's news of both Deadpool and Wolverine 2, however, is what we're not hearing about: the possible Gambit movie, which Wolverine was also thought to be planting the seeds for. Is Gambit news next, or not?


For a show that's been cancelled twice, Seth McFarlane's Family Guy keeps chugging along, with a devoted fan base that has been a key part of the show's resurrection(s). Family Guy is an animated FOX show about working class guy Peter Griffin and his family, which includes a diabolical evil genius baby named Stewie. And now, it looks like Family Guy may someday go where its competitors like The Simpsons and South Park have gone before it: the big screen. Talking to Wired, McFarlane said, "Fox wants it. We know what we want to do with it. It's just a question of finding the time. That's why The Simpsons took so many years to do theirs. It wasn't because they didn't know what they wanted to do with it. They just couldn't fit it into the schedule. There's so much to do for a weekly animated series - twice as much as you have to do for a live-action show. So, we're finding time where we can. We're in the early stages right now" That right there is pretty much all that anyone knows about the potential Family Guy movie, so obviously there's no clue as to what the movie might actually be about, etc. What do you think would be a good premise for a Family Guy movie?


Universal Pictures, home to so many classic horror monsters, is moving ahead with plans for a modern version of Robert Stevenson's novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with Keanu Reeves attached to star in the movie simply titled Jekyll. Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road, The Clearing) is working on the script, and Nicolas Winding Refn, the Danish director of Bronson and the Pusher series is in talks to direct, in what will be his first big studio production. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is, of course, the well-known tale of a scientist whose experiments lead to him unleashing an evil, violent second personality of Mr. Hyde, who then goes on a murderous rampage. Universal is clearly very fond of the story, as they are also developing a second, previously announced adapation to be produced and directed by Guillermo del Toro. This one is expected to be more closely adapted from Stevenson's novel, whereas the Keanu Reeves-starring Jekyll is set in a contemporary setting. With Del Toro's massive slate of many movies, including the two Hobbit movies, his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde movie will probably not be made for many years yet, and so Universal is in a situation where they can safely develop both movies without them really being in competition with each other, since they will probably be released many years apart. Anyway, Keanu Reeves seems like an unusual choice to star in a Jekyll/Hyde movie, as he is not known as an actor that we see getting particularly furious that often, being known more for his rather subdued, mellow personality. So, it definitely sounds like a chance for Reeves to expand his acting persona.


Back in 2006, Paramount announced plans to simultaneously develop a movie and videogame called The Wheelman, which would be released in late 2007, both of which would star Vin Diesel. Well, the movie never happened, but the videogame was released last month, starring Vin Diesel's voice and likeness. Now, Paramount has revived the movie project, with Diesel reprising the character from the game, and John Singleton (2 Fast 2 Furious, 2000's Shaft) to direct. Singleton is newly available after his departure earlier this year from the A-Team adaptation. Rich Wilkes, who wrote the two XXX movies, worked on the original script, which was followed by a rewrite by the writing team of Oliver Butcher (cowriter of Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde) and Stephen Cornwell (director of the direct-to-video Philadelphia Experiment II). The Wheelman is the story of a retired professional driver who is brought back into the business to protect a woman from his past, racing around Barcelona, Spain in the middle of a gang war.


Ray Stevenson (Punisher: War Zone) and two of the stars of The Godfather, James Caan and Robert Duvall, will star in Tribes of October, a post-apocalyptic gang movie set in a New York City surrounded by desert sands. Stevenson will play a detective going after the leader of the NYC mafia (Caan), who is likewise at war with the remnants of the NYPD, led by Duvall. Tribes of October is budgeted at $25 million and will film in Michigan, where green screen technology is being used to create the film's fantastic (and very orange) version of New York City. Ray Stevenson also signed up this week to star in The Irishman, with Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer. Stevenson will be starring as real life 1970s Cleveland gangster Danny Greene, with Walken playing a loan shark and Kilmer playing a cop who befriends Greene. Jonathan Hensleigh (2004's The Punisher, the one starring Thomas Jane, not the one starring Stevenson) will be directing from a script he cowrote, based upon the book To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia. Filming starts on May 19th in Detroit, which means Stevenson will be filming two movies this summer in Michigan.


Three years ago, 20th Century Fox pulled the plug on a science fiction comedy called Used Guys, which would have starred Ben Stiller and Jim Carrey as a "pair of obsolete pleasure clones," when the budget went over $120 million. Now, the studio is reviving the project, with Ben Stiller still in talks to star, although the concept has apparently been reconfigured to focus on romantic comedy elements, with ostensibly a smaller budget. Part of the new equation to bring Used Guys back down to Earth are the negotations with the Little Miss Sunshine directing team of Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton. Reese Witherspoon is also in talks to take the female lead. There's no word yet as to who will take the Jim Carrey role, which must still exist since the movie is still called Used Guys and not Used Guy. Another Ben Stiller project announced this week is Help Me Spread Goodness, a dramedy about a Chicago banker who gets swindled by a Nigerian email scam, which Stiller will direct. Previous movies that Ben Stiller has directed include Tropic Thunder, Reality Bites, The Cable Guy and Zoolander. It's not yet known if Stiller would also be starring in Help Me Spread Goodness.


Samuel L. Jackson and his Uppity Films production company have secured the rights to the life story of Andrew Mwangura, a journalist and ex-Marine who works as a negotiator between pirates and the owners of vessels highjacked off the coast of Africa, through his non-profit group, Seafarers Assistance Programme. The movie will be a coproduction with H20 Motion Pictures, with which Jackson has previously collaborated on for 2001's Formula 51. Samuel L. Jackson will star in this as-yet-untitled biopic, but there is no word yet as who will be writing or directing. The deal for Mwangura's life story rights were negotiated in Mombasa, Kenya as Mwangura was also negotiating a $4.3 million deal with pirates controlling a Ukrainian ship full of Russian tanks.


When Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson made his transition from inquiring about the aroma of his cuisine in the WWE ring to flexing his pecs on the big screen with movies like The Scorpion King, The Rundown and Walking Tall, action fans were deservedly excited that The Rock represented a new era of sorts. And then, Johnson instead started making lots of kiddie-friendly movies for Disney instead, and there started to feel like Johnson's stature as an action star was being passed up (he only has so many years left until age starts creeping in). Well, the good news then is that Johnson is in final negotiations to star in Faster, an action drama for CBS Films (not a TV movie company). Johnson will play an ex-con seeking vengeance for the murder of his brother 10 years earlier when the two were double-crossed during the heist that landed Johnson in prison. Phil Joanou, who previously worked with Dwayne Johnson on 2006's Gridiron Gang will be directing from a script by Tony and Joe Gayton (Uncommon Valor; cowriter of Bulletproof), with filming scheduled to start in August, 2009. In other Dwayne Johnson news, I should also note that there was a rumor this week that Johnson was being considered to star as Captain Nemo in Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Captain Nemo, but director McG quickly debunked this, with the word still being that Will Smith is McG and Disney's top choice for the role.


This coming Monday, May 11th, the Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch into space for the last planned repair mission of the Hubble Space Telescope. In addition to the precise and complex work that the astronauts will be performing on the telescope, the commander and pilot will also be serving as filmmakers, operating IMAX equipment in space to document the entire experience. In addition to their other training in preparation for a shuttle flight, the Atlantis astronauts were trained at Johnson Space Center in the use of IMAX cameras. All of this is being done so that in the spring of 2010, IMAX movie goers can experience Hubble 3D, a collaboration between NASA, IMAX and Warner Bros. In addition to the footage of the Atlantis repair mission, Hubble 3D will feature many of the stunning images that the Hubble Space Telescope has brought back to us from the depths of the universe.


Pop singer Christina Aguilera has signed with Screen Gems to make her big screen live action debut starring in Burlesque, the story of a small town girl who gets caught up in the exciting world of a Los Angeles neo-burlesque nightclub, singing, dancing and stripping for eager crowds. Steven Antin, who costarred as Troy Perkins in The Goonies, grew up to become a writer (1999's Gloria; cowriter of Chasing Papi), producer (TV's Pussycat Dolls Presents: Girlicious) and director (the direct-to-video sequel, Glass House: The Good Mother), and he wrote Burlesque specifically with Christina Aguilera in mind, and will make his big screen debut as director. Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich, Catch and Release) also did a recent polish on the script. Screen Gems recently had surprising success with Obsession, starring Beyonce Knowles, and this movie is seen as a sort of follow up to that project. Burlesque is expected to start filming later this year, probably in Los Angeles. The reason Burlesque landed its spot as this week's Rotten Idea of the Week is that it just seems an awful lot like a movie that is still, ten years later, considered to be one of the biggest flops ever: 1995's Showgirls. Variety points out the similarities between neo-burlesque and Cabaret, which won eight Oscars back in 1972, but I guess I would just ask, do you think Christina Aguilera is going to star in the next Cabaret?

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS through his MySpace page or via a RT forum message. Greg also blogs about the TV show Lost at TwoLosties.Blogspot.com.


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