This week was chockful of so many movie announcements that the Weekly Ketchup could have been a top 20 instead of a top 10, but these jewels of the week include new movies for acclaimed directors Martin Scorsese and Terry Gilliam, sequels for Sex and the City and Bloodsport and a movie based on the Candy Land board game.
Coming off the upcoming Mel Gibson movie, Edge of Darkness, Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Casino Royale) is in talks to direct Green Lantern, the outer space superhero project which Warner Bros is now tagging as their #1 priority among their various projects based on DC Comics characters (the western Jonah Hex is #2). The adventures of Green Lantern take place within a epic space opera scope comparable to Star Wars, as pilot Hal Jordan is entrusted with a power ring which allows him to form anything he can imagine out of an green power that is as strong as Jordan can keep his will resolute. The three screenwriters who are being credited as working on Green Lantern are Greg Berlanti (creator of TV’s Everwood), comics writer Marc Guggenheim (Aquaman, The Flash) and Michael Green, who like Guggenheim, has written various TV shows that Berlanti has produced. With Green Lantern given top priority, we should now hear some casting news for Hal Jordan, and the many other DC characters that this very positive script review suggests should be in the movie.
Although his latest film, Shutter Island (AKA Ashecliffe) won’t hit theaters until this October, director Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas) is already lining up his next project, which will be Silence, a project Scorsese has been eager to make for over a decade, long before he even acquired the rights to the Shusaku Endo novel in 2005. Adapted by Jay Cocks (De-Lovely; cowriter of Gangs of New York), Silence is the 17th century story of two Jesuit priests who encounter violence and prejudice when they travel to Japan to both locate their mentor and spread the word of Christianity. In various stages of negotation to star in Silence are Daniel Day-Lewis (who starred in Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence and Gangs of New York), Benicio Del Toro and Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien), although it’s not yet known if the missing priest will be played by Day-Lewis or Del Toro. Filming of Silence is expected to start later this year in New Zealand.
Sure, there’s no script yet, but that apparently isn’t going to stop Sex and the City 2 from getting fast-tracked and produced in time for a planned Summer, 2010 release date. The four stars (Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall) made the news a few years back about whether they would migrate from HBO to a movie version (mostly Kim Cattrall), but this time around, their collective casting is the first real news for the sequel. Michael Patrick King, who wrote, directed and coproduced the $152 million dollar hit will be back to do the same for the sequel.
The genre of hockey movies is very spotty, populated mostly by the Mighty Ducks franchise, the star-studded 1999 flop that was Mystery, Alaska, the unapologetic patriotism of The Miracle and the 1977 Paul Newman-starring gem, Slap Shot. Which of those do you think Universal wants to remake? Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest, the Fun with Dick and Jane remake) has been signed to direct the Slap Shot remake from a script by Peter Steinfeld (Be Cool; cowriter of 21). Slap Shot is the story of the coach of a losing minor league team, the Charlestown Chiefs, who attempts to bring them victory by turning the team into a gang of violent thugs on the ice, led by the possibly insane trio of the Hanson Brothers. Something that’s interesting about that Variety article is that it makes note of the Internet furor over the idea of a Slap Shot remake, and points out the success of Adam Sandler’s remake of The Longest Yard, showing that the writer doesn’t get that people don’t have the same kind of affection for Burt Reynold’s The Longest Yard as they do for Slap Shot.
I’ve not yet seen JCVD, but the buzz is that it is evidence that Jean-Claude Van Damme totally gets his role in the world, and basically pops the balloon of anyone who will ever want to make a joke about him ever again. And so, I will give the Muscles from Brussels some respect and treat this story completely seriously. No zingers on this one! Talking to Total Film, Van Damme revealed that he has plans to make a “true sequel” to Bloodsport, the first movie he starred in. Let me just say right here that whatever I thought of JCVD’s later work, Bloodsport was indeed a very well done, kick ass martial arts movie. Van Damme’s plan is to ignore the three sequels that he didn’t star in, and tell the story of Frank Dux 20 years later (a la The Wrestler?), as “a complete bum, maybe abusing his son” and “on drugs.” JCVD is encountering some resistance to the concept, but I think it sounds really intriguing.
The first movie to come out of the deal between Universal and Hasbro to make movies based on their classic board games appears to be Candy Land, the game that Wikipedia says has “no optimal strategy, or indeed any decision making.” That sounds like a great game for someone who would greenlight a Candy Land movie. In Candy Land, players take on the role of a gingerbread man as he travels through locations like Chocolate Swamp and Candy Cane Forest, as they learn how to tell colors apart, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Kevin Lima (Enchanted, A Goofy Movie) will direct from a script by Etan Cohen (Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa; cowriter of Tropic Thunder). Yes, one of the Tropic Thunder writers is scripting the Candy Land movie, though I’m not sure if that means someone at Universal has a brilliant sense of irony, or totally does not.
The long-in-development movie version of Beverly Cleary’s popular series of novels aimed at young girls, Ramona, has had its focus changed slightly to adapt first Beezus and Ramona, which Cleary wrote in 1955 before the seven books in which Ramona is the main title character. In casting the movie, Fox 2000 has managed a coup of sorts, as both Selena Gomez (star of Wizards of Waverly Place) as Beatrice/Beezus and Joey King (supporting role in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody) as Ramona are coming from shows on the popular Disney Channel. Beezus and Ramona is the story of how a girl named Beatrice (AKA Beezus) learns to deal with her annoying little sister, Ramona. Elizabeth Allen (Aquamarine) is directing from a script by Laurie Craig (the parrot comedy Paulie) and Nick Pustay (2007’s Camille). Filming starts later this spring, and 20th Century Fox has set a release date for Beezus and Ramona of March 19th, 2010.
We’re still waiting to see Heath Ledger’s last film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, directed by Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam, but Gilliam is already preparing for his next project, Zero Theorem. Billy Bob Thornton will star in Zero Theorem as a reclusive computer genius who finds himself wracked with existential angst while working on a project which he hopes will either produce the answer to the meaning of life, or prove that there isn’t one. Considering how often Gilliam’s attempts to get movies made have hit brick walls, it’s nice to see two of his projects coming together so closely together. Filming of Zero Theorem is scheduled to start in May.
It’s only been a little over two years since Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider) starred as the Virgin Mary in The Nativity Story, but the greatest story ever told is going to get told again. Camilla Belle (10,000 B.C., Push) has signed to play the title character in Mary, Mother of Christ, which MGM plans to release on Good Friday (April 2nd), 2010. Other cast members are expected to include Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (as both Gabriel and Lucifer), Jessica Lange, Peter O’Toole and as King Herod, Al Pacino (who also signed this week to play the lead in King Lear). Alejandro Agresti (The Lake House) is directing, and filming is scheduled to start in Morocco in May.
Orlando Bloom, Vincent Cassel and Olga Kurylenko have signed on to star in The Cross, a futuristic sci-fi thriller to be directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Lord of War). Set in the near future, The Cross is the story of a man (Bloom) who dares to cross a mysterious, forbidden border near his town, with Cassel playing the guard who is out to stop him. The story sounds a bit like the premise of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, and considering that Andrew Niccol also wrote The Truman Show, here’s hoping that it doesn’t turn out that what’s on the other side of the border isn’t something like a suburban highway or a big blue wall. Filming starts in July in Australia on a budget of $24 million.
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 and Greg also blogs about the TV show Lost, at TwoLosties.Blogspot.com.