Weekly Ketchup

Weekly Ketchup: Reboots for Buffy and Alien

Plus new projects for Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, and Steve Coogan

by | May 29, 2009 | Comments

It’s been a slow post-Memorial Day news week, but our top 11 stories still have some doozies, including four remakes, two movie projects based on British television shows and the news of what DreamWorks Animation plans to be releasing for the next few years.


In 1997, writer and producer Joss Whedon took the idea of a TV show version of the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie and turned it into a cultural and generational sensation, making Sarah Michelle Gellar a star and launching a rabid fanbase that is still among the largest and most dedicated that television has ever seen. The show, however, ended six years ago. Meanwhile, Twilight has come along and given today’s young girls a new franchise of human-vampire canoodling to fantasize about. To some tween fans of Twilight who barely remember the show, Sarah Michelle Gellar might just seem like an actress in her 30s who is single digits away from being old enough to be a gramma. So, if you are the producers of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, what do you do? Take advantage of the concept of there being a “slayer for every generation” and, that’s right, reboot Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all Star Trek-like. Oh, if only Star Trek had been both awful and a bomb so that it couldn’t be used as an excuse now for even more remakes than we already had (I’m not serious, I wanted Star Trek to be good, and it was, but you know what I mean, right?). To make the concept even more egregious to Buffy fans, there are currently no plans to involve Joss Whedon in the reboot, although they don’t “rule it out.” Also, since the producers only have the rights to the original movie, that means you won’t be seeing any of Buffy‘s friends, like Spike, Angel or Willow. So, Buffy fans, where do you stand? Do you embrace the concept as a way of continuining the Buffy franchise for generations to come, or does it sound about as cool as, you know, the original movie starring Kristy Swanson?


Okay, admittedly, this is a slow news week. Last week there was the Cannes Film Festival, where a lot of news happened, and then this week had Memorial Day and a four day week as well. So, a rumor from a Los Angeles comic book shop that I would normally never have room for, this week ends up in the #2 spot. Katee Sackhoff, who played Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica, paid a visit to Golden Apple last week, where she reportedly bought out every comic the store had that features the Marvel villain Typhoid Mary, possibly in hopes of landing a role in an upcoming Marvel movie. Typhoid Mary, a schizophrenic assassin with mutant powers of telepathy and telekinesis, is a character that is not particularly well known to the audience at large, but has maintained a bit of a fan base over the years among comics fans, since being first introduced as a romantic interest for Daredevil. Typhoid Mary also had a small role in the Elektra movie. So, the question we can ask next is which movie might Sackhoff be auditioning for? The three options seem to be the reboot of Daredevil, the Deadpool movie (Mary has also appeared in his comics) or, and this is probably less likely, a stand alone Typhoid Mary movie.


Walt Disney Pictures is developing a remake of their 1986 sci-fi kids adventure (and flop), Flight of the Navigator. Flight of the Navigator was about a twelve year old boy who reappears mysteriously after his disappearance eight years earlier, without having aged a day, just as NASA discovers an abandoned alien spacecraft. Brad Copeland, the writer of Disney’s 2007 hit comedy Wild Hogs has been hired to update Flight of the Navigator. There’s no director attached yet. Disney had a hit earlier this year with Race to Witch Mountain, a remake of another of their old live-action science fiction movies, so it seems likely that is the model being used for pitching this remake as well. Perhaps Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can play the NASA official who befriends the young boy?


Columbia Pictures has secured the film rights to the life story and upcoming memoir of Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama, the cargo ship famously highjacked by Somalian pirates last month, culminating in the expert sniping by Navy SEALS of three of the pirates holding Phillips at gunpoint. When the Maersk Alabama was taken, Phillips surrendered himself to the pirates so that his crew could lock themselves away, and later attempted an escape. Kevin Spacey is one of the producers of the project, but there’s no word yet as to whether the actor is considering playing Phillips, to whom he bares absolutely no resemblance.


Ah spring, it’s an annual event as reliable as the recurring rumor of plans for a Doctor Who theatrical movie. Since Star Trek proved an old sci-fi show that got started in the 1960s can be turned into a successful movie 40 years later, why not Doctor Who, right? The revived show continues to be a success both in England and here in America on the Sci Fi network, with fans awaiting the arrival of the eleventh incarnation of The Doctor, to be played by Matt Smith starting in 2010. In the meantime, however, the most recent Doctor was played by Andy Tennant, who will be playing The Doctor in two upcoming episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures. In an article about that appearance, a BBC Films representative confirmed that a “script is in development” for the long-awaited Doctor Who movie. There are no details other than that, except that the movie is “a long time away,” which means that by the time it’s ever made, the star will probably be Matt Smith, or maybe even whoever plays the 12th incarnation.


Steve Coogan appears intent to prove that Sacha Baron Cohen isn’t the only British comedian who can turn fictional TV characters into movie stars, as he has revealed that plans for an Alan Partridge movie are still alive, based upon the fictional telly presenter that has starred in the shows The Day Today, Knowing Me, Knowing You… with Alan Partridge and I’m Alan Partridge. The idea of an Alan Partridge movie were first announced in 2005, but this is the first news we’ve heard in years that the project is still quite alive. Unlike Cohen’s Borat and Bruno, which were featured in the HBO series Da Ali G Show, Coogan’s Alan Partridge character is largely unknown in the United States. According to Wikipedia, Partridge’s personality traits include homophobia (despite possibly himself being gay), misogyny, political conservatism and an obsession with being on television as much as possible.


As we get closer to the saturation point at which there are no more 1980s movies that aren’t being remade, 20th Century Fox has announced plans to remake Girls Just Want to Have Fun, the 1985 comedy starring Helen Hunt and Sarah Jessica Parker that borrowed its title from the Cyndi Lauper hit. Fox has hired Michelle Morgan, who also wrote a romantic comedy called Is He the One for the studio, to work on the script. In the original, Hunt and Parker played two friends who audition to be on a show called Dance TV. The remake seems to be trading upon the popularity of modern reality shows like Dancing with the Stars and Fox’s American Idol, as well as the success of 2007’s Hairspray, which had a very similar premise.


Danny McBride is not quite yet a household name, but the commercials for Land of the Lost are certainly getting him face time. The week before that movie opens up, McBride has landed a starring and writing role in Hench, a Warner Bros. adaptation of an obscure 2004 graphic novel ( http://ait-planetlar.com/hench.shtml ) about an injured football player who takes a job as a henchman for a successful super villain. Danny McBride’s cowriter on Hench will be Shawn Harwell, who cowrote three episodes of McBride’s HBO series Eastbound & Down. Danny McBride’s other writing credits include cowriting The Foot Fist Way and the upcoming fantasy spoof Your Highness, in which he will costar with James Franco.


The third movie to costar British comedians Nick Frost and Simon Pegg (stars of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) will be Paul, a road trip comedy from Universal and Working Title about two sci fi fanboys who find an actual alien outside Area 51. That bit of news has actually been known for a while, as well as that it will be directed by Greg Mottola (Adventureland, Superbad), and was written by Frost and Pegg. What is news this week, however, is who the rest of the cast will be. As the voice of Paul, the title character alien, is Seth Rogen, who costarred in Mottola’s Superbad. From Mottola’s Adventureland (and Saturday Night Live), Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig have also been cast. The other two actors announced this week are Jason Bateman (Arrested Development) and Jane Lynch, the older actress/comedienne who is probably best known for playing Andy’s boss in The 40 Year Old Virgin. Although Paul doesn’t seem to be quite the same sort of “genre spoof” as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were (unless you consider it a take on the “road trip” comedy), those two guys have a great natural comedic chemistry, and so any chance to see them reunite is highly anticipated.


DreamWorks Animation has bumped up its production schedule from two CGI animated movies a year to five movies every two years, and in doing so, has revealed a couple of projects that may have been announced as being developed, but were as yet unconfirmed as being within three years of release. First off, it’s worth noting that this newly ambitious schedule follows 2009, in which the animation studio only released Monsters vs Aliens. In 2010, there will be How to Train Your Dragon (3/26/10), Shrek Forever After (AKA Shrek 4) (5/21/10) and Oobermind (AKA Master Mind) (11/5/10). In 2011, there will be Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom (6/3/11) and The Guardians (11/4/11), which is one of the first newer projects in this announcement. The Guardians is about a sort of super hero team made up of holiday representatives and other fairytale creatures: North (Santa Claus), Bunnymund (Easter Bunny), Tooth (The Tooth Fairy), Sand (The Sandman) and Jack Frost. In 2012, there will be the Shrek spin-off Puss in Boots (3/12/12), Madagascar 3 (5/25/12) and on November 2, 2012, one of three possible projects, with the other two presumably being released in 2013. The Croods is about a family of cavemen who encounter a “modern caveman” whose search for tomorrow is at odds with their reliance on the tools of yesterday. Truckers is based upon Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad Trilogy, and is about tiny creatures that live in a department store. Finally, there is Super Secret Ghost Project, which promises to give us ghosts as we’ve never seen them before.


Okay, Hollywood, now you’re starting to make me angry. Yes, Star Trek was awesome. Yes, it is the biggest hit of the year. That, however, does not give you a greenlight to think collectively that every great franchise out there now needs to get a “reboot.” And you especially don’t go anywhere near my precious: Ridley Scott’s 1978 horror masterpiece of Alien. That, however, is apparently what 20th Century Fox is thinking of doing, which we know about thanks to a tip to Bloody Disgusting from the same source that told them about the plans to reboot Predator. If the story holds out, the rumor is that Ridley Scott himself is producing the remake, which will be directed by one Carl Rinsch, who directs TV commercials for Scott Free Productions. The premise of the movie will be the same as Alien: a spaceship has a single alien on board, and it’s causing havok. Can a remake of Alien hope to possibly deliver the same sort of horror and suspense, however? Alien is one of the most frightening and disturbing movies ever made, and from start to finish is just about perfect. If Ridley Scott wants to make more Alien movies, great. There’s a whole wide universe out there in which the xenomorphs could have landed, and caused problems, but why revisit the Nostromo? Why, why, why?

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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