Weekly Ketchup: Kick-Ass 2 Officially Greenlit
Also, an unauthorized Jimi Hendrix biopic, a third Smurfs movie, and new roles for Paul Rudd and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This week's Ketchup covers a seven day period that seems a bit more "Rotten" than usual, or maybe recent weeks have just been that "Fresh." Included in the mix are a Jimi Hendrix biopic, sequels to Kick-Ass and The Smurfs 2 (yes, a sequel to a movie that's not even out yet), and new roles for Cameron Diaz, Paul Rudd and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This Week's Top Story
TWO DAYS AFTER THE AVENGERS BREAKS RECORDS, KICK-ASS 2 GETS A GREENLIGHT. GO FIGURE.
Comic book writer Mark Millar has been talking up the movie sequel (and adaptation of his own sequel mini series) Kick-Ass 2 for quite some time, but his talk wasn't reciprocated much by any action from Lionsgate, the studio that actually released Kick-Ass in 2010. Before we get too far in, this also might be a good point to say that there will be a spoiler soon, if you haven't seen Kick-Ass. Still there? Okay, here we go. Anyway, it was just a week ago today that The Avengers opened to over $200 million domestically, and as of this writing, over $700 million in less than two weeks internationally, breaking at least seven box office records. Two days after the weekend was over... guess what, folks? Kick-Ass 2 now has a greenlight at Universal Pictures, which is stepping in as the franchise's new distributor, with negotiations now active with producer and director Matthew Vaughn, who self-financed the first film. Produced on a budget of just $30 million, Kick-Ass went on to gross over $96 million worldwide. Matthew Vaughn is busy with projects elsewhere (namely, the sequel to X-Men: First Class), but he has already picked his replacement to direct, which is Jeff Wadlow (Never Back Down). Matthew Vaughn also adapted the script himself, which actually combines two different comic books written by Mark Millar. The first act of Kick-Ass 2 will adapt the Hit Girl spin off comic, which then leads to an adaptation of the actual Kick-Ass 2 comic book. In that story, Hit Girl and Kick-Ass team up to form a new team of super heroes whose goal is to take down the evil plans of Red Mist and his own team of super villains. The reason for the spoiler alert is in that sentence right there. Production of Kick-Ass 2 is expected to start in September, 2012 with Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse all expected to reprise their roles. However, that wasn't the only movie this week to make news for Chloe Moretz. The 15-year-old actress is also in negotiations to star in the dramatic horror film Maggie as a teenage daughter of a farm family who, during a zombie invasion, slowly starts to become one of the walking dead. Paddy Considine will play Moretz's father, and both the director and screenwriter are making their film debuts with Maggie.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 GUILLERMO DEL TORO TO MAKE HIS ANIMATION DIRECTORIAL DEBUT WITH PINOCCHIO
After serving as executive producer on such films as Puss in Boots, Kung Fu Panda 2 and the upcoming Rise of the Guardians, Guillermo del Toro will make his animated film debut as a (co) director with Pinocchio. First announced in 2008, del Toro has long been attached as producer to this 3D stop motion animation of the children's fiction novel by Carlo Collodi, which is also being co-produced by the Jim Henson Company. Guillermo del Toro's codirector on Pinocchio will be Mark Gustafson, who is also making his debut, and whose previous credits include being Wes Anderson's animation director on Fantastic Mr. Fox. This sign of continuing development for one adaptation of Pinocchio comes just a few months after the news that Warner Bros and director Tim Burton are also developing their own Pinocchio movie, in which Robert Downey Jr. may star as Geppetto. Meanwhile, Guillermdo del Toro's next live action film as director, the giant-robots-vs-giant-monsters action movie Pacific Rim, continues its way through post production, scheduled by Warner Bros for release on July 13, 2013.
#2 PAUL RUDD GOES 5 FOR 5 WITH ROLE MODELS DIRECTOR FOR THEY CAME TOGETHER
Paul Rudd has appeared in all four of director David Wain's previous movies (Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten, Role Models and Wanderlust), and are now set to make a fifth comedy called They Came Together. Amy Poehler, who also costarred in Wet Hot American Summer, will costar with Rudd in what is being described as a parody of the romantic comedy genre. Paul Rudd will play "a corporate businessman whose company is threatening to shut down the small store run by" Poehler's character. And then they fall in love, and stuff. They Came Together was also written by David Wain and Michael Showalter, one of his costars from The State and Stella.
#3 GRAPHIC NOVEL ADAPTATION THE SCRIBBLER FILLED WITH FAMILIAR FACES FROM TV
The Scribbler is the title of a 2006 graphic novel published by Image Comics about a young woman who is subjected to an experimental machine for erasing multiple personalities, except that she then becomes concerned that her own personality might be also be targetted by the device. The book was written by newcomer (to movies) Daniel Schaffer, who also adapted the screenplay. The cast of The Scribbler is filled with names familiar to anyone who watches a lot of television. Katie Cassidy (Melrose Place, Harper's Island) has the lead role, and will be supported by two of the main cast members from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Michelle Trachtenberg and Eliza Dushku. From Deadwood and The Sopranos, there's Garret Dillahunt and Michael Imperioli, and Gina Gershon and Billy Campbell also have been cast. A newcomer named John Suits is listed as being the film's director. Given the "newness" of the writer and director, the festival friendliness of the cast, and the timing of the start of production... one has to wonder if this independent production isn't being aimed at a 2013 festival debut (namely Sundance, SXSW or Toronto). For that reason, we'll let this one slip in as a borderline Fresh Development.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#6 CAMERON DIAZ WILL SELL REAL ESTATE IN AGENT: CENTURY 21... GET IT?
Cameron Diaz and Benicio Del Toro have both signed on to star in an independently produced action comedy called Agent: Century 21. As one can guess from the title, Cameron Diaz will play a real estate agent who is kidnapped and finds herself stuck in the midst of the Mexican drug wars; she uses her knowledge as a divorced mom to "outsmart the FBI, various underground crime lords, and an international terrorist organization -- in time to make it home for dinner." There's no word yet as to who Benicio Del Toro will play, but since he's Puerto Rican, he'll probably play one of the Mexicans (yes, this writer gets why that is wrong, but this is Hollywood...). Agent: Century 21 was written by Greg Brooker, who was M. Night Shyamalan's cowriter on Stuart Little, and the film will mark the feature film debut of music video director Adam Hashemi.
#5 ANDRE 3000 HEADLINES UNAUTHORIZED JIMI HENDRIX BIOPIC ALL IS BY MY SIDE
There are certain deceased celebrities for whom there have never been theatrical biopics, mostly because of rights issues represented by their families. This situtation seems to be especially common among celebrities closely tied to the 1960s, such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Martin Luther King, Jr. This week, the producers of one of those long planned biopics decided to move ahead without family support or approval. All is By My Side is the title of an unlicensed and independently produced biopic of groundbreaking 1960s rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Rapper-turned-actor Andre Benjamin (AKA Andre 3000 of Outkast) will star in All is By My Side as Hendrix himself, with major roles also going to British actresses Haley Atwell (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later). Atwell and Poots's roles are currently unknown, but Hendrix is known to have British girlfriends. All is By My Side was adapted from interviews and archival materials by screenwriter John Ridley (cowriter of Undercover Brother and Red Tails), who will also direct, making this his second film after 1997's Cold Around the Heart, starring David Caruso and Kelly Lynch. All of this quickly led to an official statement from Experience Hendrix LLC, which basically said that no Jimi Hendrix movie can be made using Hendrix's original music or copyrights without their involvement. As such, All is By My Side is presumably not going to use any of Hendrix's music. Filming of All is By My Side is scheduled to start in Ireland later this month, and is a borderline Rotten Idea based mostly on the RT Tomatometer scores for John Ridley's past movies.
#4 ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER STARS IN TEN, BREAKING A RUN OF TITLES THAT READ LIKE PUNS ON HIS CAREER
After some (mostly familial) fits and starts, Arnold Schwarzenegger is now well into his post-gubernatorial return to his film career. The Expendables 2 comes out this August, The Last Stand is scheduled for January, and filming is currently underway on The Tomb. This week, it was announced that Schwarzenegger has signed to star in the independent action film Ten, which will be directed by David Ayer (Street Kings, Harsh Times) from a script by Skip Woods, cowriter of The A-Team, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the upcoming A Good Day to Die Hard. Ten will tell the story of an elite DEA task squad that uses one of its raids as cover for a theft of millions in cash, which then leads to members of the team being picked off by assassins. Arnold Schwarzenegger will presumably play one of the DEA agents, though probably one that didn't really want to steal the money. Because he's Arnold Schwarzenegger.
#3 CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG WILL ACTUALLY BE SMALLER ON MOST BIG SCREENS THAN HE IS SUPPOSED TO BE
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment, the animation studio behind The Lorax, are continuing to develop a large slate of projects based on popular intellectual properties. The latest addition this week was Clifford the Big Red Dog, created by illustrator Norman Bridwell in 1963, and sold to Illumination by Scholastic Media. Clifford the Big Red Dog tells the story of a little girl named Emily Elizabeth whose love for her runt puppy causes the dog to grow until it stands 25 feet tall (with bright red fur, to boot). Clifford the Big Red Dog was also an animated series on PBS from 2000 to 2003 (until the death of John Ritter, who voiced Clifford), and was also adapted as an animated film, Clifford's Really Big Movie, in 2004. Illumination Entertainment is planning on adapting Clifford the Big Red Dog as a movie that combines live action and CGI animation. The screenplay is currently being adapted by screenwriter Matt Lopez, cowriter of Bedtime Stories, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and Race to Witch Mountain. The consistent low RT Tomatometer scores for Lopez's films (25% to 43%) are mostly why Clifford is one of this week's Rotten Ideas.
#2 FOURTEEN MONTHS BEFORE THE SMURFS 2, THE SMURFS 3 IS ALREADY BEING PLANNED
Sony Pictures Animation only officially announced production had started on The Smurfs 2 two weeks ago, with a release date planned for July 31, 2013. This week, however, the studio also revealed that The Smurfs 3 is already in development. To this end, Sony has hired frequent animated/family feature screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick (Chicken Run; cowriter of The Spiderwick Chronicles) and relative newcomer Chris Poche (he contributed dialogue to Over the Hedge) to start writing a third Smurfs movie. No details are yet known about the premise of The Smurfs 3, though Sony has revealed the premise of The Smurfs 2. In the sequel, Gargamel will have created a new race of mischievous Smurf-like creatures called the Naughties, which he hopes will allow him to use the magic of Smurf-essence. When Gargamel discovers, however, that only true Smurfs will work, and only Smurfette can transform Naughties into Smurfs, Gargamel then kidnaps Smurfette and takes her to Paris, where the Smurfs have wacky French adventures and such. The Smurfs 3 is one of the week's Rotten Ideas because The Smurfs earned a low Tomatometer score of 23%.
#1 FRIEDBERG AND SELTZER KNOW ALL THERE IS KNOW ABOUT THE STARVING GAMES
Since it was announced just last week that Dimension Films is finally getting around to making Scary Movie 5, this week Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (formerly of that franchise) unsurprisingly announced that they have a new movie in the works too. Friedberg and Seltzer are best known for their unfunny spoofs like Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans and Vampires Suck. There's still no word as to whatever happened to their previously announced film (The Biggest Movie of All Time 3D), but Friedberg and Seltzer are moving ahead anyway with The Starving Games. As you would expect, The Starving Games will be a spoof of The Hunger Games, as well as The Avengers, and the latest entries in the Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes franchises mostly because those movies were successful. Meanwhile, back in Scary Movie 5 news, it was confirmed this week that the premise will mostly hinge around a spoof of Black Swan, regardless of how increasingly untimely Black Swan seems as a subject worth spoofing. You can read the premise here, and also find out that Anna Faris will not be returning for Scary Movie 5. And if you want to read both of those stories in an appropriate fashion, The Onion's A.V. Club has a write up just for you.
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.